The goal of this report is to pull together, in one place, the various strands of research and thinking on defining and measuring material hardship in the US, particularly as they relate to research with low-income families and children. The second chapter lays out some of the definitional issues, underlying theoretical constructs, and analytical challenges that we face when examining material hardship. The subsequent chapter reviews how researchers in the US have used material hardship measures in their work. Finally, the fourth chapter provides some basic tabulations of existing material hardship measures in the SIPP.
(1) Although the SIPP is a regularly occurring nationally representative survey, the Adult Well-being module, which collects most of the material hardship-related data, has only been included in one Wave of each of the three last Panels (1991, 1993, & 1996).