Measures of Material Hardship: Final Report. Other Hardships

04/01/2004

Housing Safety and Overcrowding

An additional set of hardship measures pertain specifically to housing conditions. These comprise seven serious safety issues, counts of these issues, and overcrowding (more than 1.5 persons per room).

The most prevalent housing safety issue is problems with "pests such as rats, mice, roaches, or other insects." (Exhibit 4.6) Approximately 15% of families experience this condition. Next most common, in the 5 to 7% range, are leaking roofs or ceilings, broken windows, and holes in the wall or ceiling. Exposed wires, nonworking plumbing, holes in the floor, and overcrowding are experienced by 1 to 3% of families.

The relationship of each of these measures to income is marked. In all cases, households with incomes less than 100% of FPL experience housing safety issues at higher rates than higher income households. That said, for two of the measures there is either a non-statistically significant difference between those households with the lowest incomes and those in the middle income category (i.e., exposed wires and non-working plumbing), and a weaker statistical difference (p<0.10) for three other housing safety measures (i.e., broken windows, holes in the ceiling, and holes in the floor). This suggests that these measures may be less efficient indicators of housing safety hardships than other measures, where stronger differences between income groups exist.

Remarkably, while the lowest income group experiences each of the seven housing safety issues at rates of two-to-three times those of the highest income group, the 3- and 4-item combinations are experienced at rates four times as great. This suggests that these issues tend to be concentrated among certain low-income households. Overcrowding also is much more prevalent among the lowest versus the highest income group (4.9 versus 0.6%; p < 0.01).

Similar patterns are apparent when households with more and less liquid assets are compared. The better off group has prevalences of housing safety issues and overcrowding very similar to those of the highest income group, which comprises about two-thirds of the population.

Households in urban and rural areas: Housing safety problems are somewhat more common in rural than in urban areas. (Exhibit 4.7) Overall, families in rural areas are more likely to have broken windows, exposed wires, and holes in their walls or ceilings (p < 0.05, p < 0.10, p < 0.05 respectively), as well as combinations of three or more safety issues (p < 0.05).

Among the poorest households, overcrowding is slightly more common in urban settings (p < 0.10). In the middle income group, rural families are worse off than their urban counterparts with regard to leaking roofs or ceilings, holes in walls or ceilings, and holes in the floor (p < 0.10). They also are more likely to experience combinations of three or more safety issues (p < 0.01). In the highest income group, nonworking plumbing is more common among rural than urban households (p < 0.05).

 

Exhibit 4.6
Housing Safety and Overcrowding, by Income and Assets
  Problem with pests Leaking roof or ceiling Broken windows Exposed wires Nonworking plumbing Holes in wall or ceiling Holes in floor 3+ safety issues 4+ safety issues Over-crowding
Household income relative to FPL
Under 100%a 25.3 11.3 10.2 2.4 5.0 9.0 2.0 7.9 3.4 4.9
100-200% 19.5*** 8.4*** 8.1* 1.7 5.0 7.4* 1.4* 5.1*** 2.3** 3.7**
Over 200% 11.7*** 6.1*** 3.7*** 0.5*** 2.2*** 3.4*** 0.7*** 1.9*** 0.8*** 0.6***
Liquid assets
< $100a 21.6 9.9 8.5 1.7 4.4 7.7 1.8 5.8 2.5 3.7
=>$100 12.1*** 6.1*** 4.0*** 0.7*** 2.5*** 3.8*** 0.6*** 2.2*** 0.9*** 0.8***
All households 15.3 7.4 5.6 1.0 3.2 5.1 1.0 3.4 1.5 1.9
Notes:
a. Reference Category.
*** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.01.
** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.05.
* Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.10.

 

Exhibit 4.7
Housing Safety and Overcrowding, by Urban versus Rural and Income
  Problem with pests Leaking roof or ceiling Broken windows Exposed wires Nonworking plumbing Holes in wall or ceiling Holes in floor 3+ safety issues 4+ safety issues Over-
crowding
Geographic Location
Urbana 15.3 7.4 5.2 0.9 3.0 4.8 0.9 3.2 1.4 1.9
Rural 15.6 7.4 7.2** 1.4* 4.0 6.3** 1.6 4.6** 1.8 1.5
Under 100% FPL
Urbana 26.1 11.7 9.7 2.3 5.1 9.2 2.0 8.0 3.3 5.3
Rural 22.3 9.9 11.9 2.4 4.5 8.3 2.1 7.4 3.8 3.1*
100-200% FPL
Urbana 19.3 7.9 7.6 1.4 4.9 6.8 1.1 4.3 2.0 3.9
Rural 20.1 10.2* 10.0 2.7 5.1 9.9* 2.4* 8.0*** 3.0 2.8
Over 200% FPL
Urbana 11.7 6.3 3.5 0.5 2.0 3.3 0.6 1.8 0.8 0.6
Rural 11.8 5.5 4.6 0.6 3.4** 4.2 1.2 2.4 0.7 0.5
All households 15.3 7.4 5.6 1.0 3.2 5.1 1.0 3.4 1.5 1.9
Notes:
a. Reference Category.
*** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.01.
** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.05.
* Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.10.

Households headed by single adults, married couples, and other multiple-adult configurations:

Overall, married couple households are less likely to experience housing safety hardships than single adult households and those with multiple adults. The only exception occurs in the case of the most infrequent housing safety issue, holes in the floor, where there was no difference in the likelihood of experiencing this hardship across different types of households. (Exhibit 4.8) Single adult and households with other multiple adult configurations experience housing safety hardships at higher rates and at relatively similar levels of prevalence.

It appears that the advantages married couple households have over single adult households are attributable to their income. Within the poorest group, married couple households are better off only with respect to pest problems (p < 0.01). The sole advantages of married couple households in the middle income group are with regard to broken windows and nonworking plumbing (p < 0.05). In the highest income group, however, married couple families are significantly better off with regard to four of the seven housing safety issues, as well as both safety issue combination measures. Households with other multiple adult configurations are significantly worse off than single-adult households in the poorest income group with regard to several housing safety hardships; they are more likely to have problems with pests, leaking roofs or ceilings, broken roofs, and four or more safety issues.

In contrast, a different pattern emerges in the domain of overcrowding. Single adult headed households are least likely to experience overcrowding. This finding is not surprising given that the presence of more persons (e.g., adults) in the household no doubt contributes to the significantly higher rate of overcrowding for multiple-adult and married couple families.

Overall, households with other multiple adult configuration are most likely to experience overcrowding (p<0.01). However, among the lowest two income groups, both married couple and other multiple adult configurations are significantly worse off than single adult households. Among the highest income group, only households with other multiple adult configurations are significantly more likely to experience overcrowding hardships (p<0.01).

The similarity in overcrowding patterns between married couple households and those with other multiple adult configurations, however, suggests that the SIPP's overcrowding measure may describe different circumstances, depending on the household's composition. In the case of married couple households, we would expect that these families would be sharing more common living space (e.g., bedrooms). As a result, for married couple households the measure may over-identify families that experience overcrowding hardships. However, households with other multiple adult configurations may not necessarily experience these efficiencies and the measure may in fact capture families that have "doubled up." These results seem to reflect some of the potential limitations of overcrowding measures that were discussed in Chapter 3.

 

Exhibit 4.8
Housing Safety and Overcrowding, by Household Composition and Income
  Problem with pests Leaking roof or ceiling Broken windows Exposed wires Nonworking plumbing Holes in wall or ceiling Holes in floor 3+ safety issues 4+ safety issues Over-
crowding
Household Composition
Single adulta 20.7 9.2 8.0 1.7 5.2 7.8 1.2 5.7 2.7 1.3
Married couple 13.0*** 6.6*** 4.4*** 0.7*** 2.5*** 3.9*** 0.8 2.5*** 0.9*** 1.7
Other multiple adults 21.4 9.3 9.0 2.1 4.6 7.8 1.7 5.5 2.9 3.2***
Under 100% FPL
Single adulta 25.9 10.8 8.4 2.3 4.9 9.5 1.9 7.6 3.0 2.9
Married couple 21.4* 10.3 10.1 1.7 4.6 7.4 2.0 6.7 2.9 6.2***
Other multiple adults 32.2* 14.5* 14.1** 3.9 6.1 11.4 2.3 10.8 5.4* 6.2**
100-200% FPL
Single adulta 20.6 9.4 10.5 2.0 7.2 8.5 0.8 5.8 3.1 0.6
Married couple 17.5 8.2 6.5** 1.3 4.2** 6.5 1.4 4.5 1.8 4.8***
Other multiple adults 25.5* 8.0 11.2 2.7 4.8 9.5 2.1 6.5 2.8 3.4***
Over 200% FPL
Single adulta 15.2 7.3 5.4 0.8 3.9 5.5 0.7 3.5 2.0 0.2
Married couple 10.9*** 5.8 3.2** 0.4 1.8** 2.9** 0.6 1.5** 0.5** 0.4
Other multiple adults 15.4 8.0 6.0 1.1 3.9 5.6 1.3 3.0 2.0 2.0***
All households 15.3 7.4 5.6 1.0 3.2 5.1 1.0 3.4 1.5 1.9
Notes:
a. Reference Category.
*** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.01.
** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.05.
* Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.10.

Durable Goods

The analyses presented here focus on the two types of durable goods most frequently incorporated in researchers' material hardship indexes: whether a household has a refrigerator or stove in their home or building. Supplementary descriptive analyses for other types of durable goods measures that are included in the SIPP, but have not frequently been used in researchers' material hardship indexes, are presented in Appendix D.

Very high proportions of households have refrigerators and stoves (99.4 and 99.2%, respectively), with even households in the lowest income group likely to have these durable goods. (Exhibit 4.9) Households in the lowest two income groups were equally less likely to have a refrigerator, whereas households in the middle and upper income groups were more likely to have a stove. In both cases, households with fewer liquid assets were less likely to possess or have access to these durable goods. Furthermore, there were no significant differences among possession of or access to refrigerators or stoves among households that reside in rural versus urban areas (Exhibit 4.10) and while married couple households are less likely to not have a refrigerator or stove, this relationship disappears when controls for income are added to the analyses (Exhibit 4.11).

Overall, these findings suggest that these durable goods measures, individually or in combination, will only identify the most needy households. That is, lack of a refrigerator or stove is a rare event and only found in households with the fewest resources (i.e., income and assets). This is consistent with the findings reported by Federman et al. (1992) and Rector et al. (1999).

 

Exhibit 4.9
Availability of Durable Goods, by Income and Assets
  Refrigerator Gas or electric stove
Household income relative to FPL
Under 100%a 98.9 98.0
100-200% 99.0 98.9**
Over 200% 99.7*** 99.6***
Liquid assets
< $100a 99.2 98.5
=>$100 99.6*** 99.5***
All households 99.4 99.2
Notes:
a. Reference Category.
*** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.01.
** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.05.
* Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.10.

 

Exhibit 4.10
Availability of Durable Goods by Urban versus Rural and Income
  Refrigerator Gas or electric stove
Geographic Location
Urbana 99.4 99.2
Rural 99.4 99.2
Under 100% FPL
Urbana 99.0 97.8
Rural 98.6 98.5
100-200% FPL
Urbana 99.0 98.9
Rural 99.2 98.8
Over 200% FPL
Urbana 99.7 99.6
Rural 99.8 99.6
All households 99.4 99.2
Notes:
a. Reference Category.
*** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.01.
** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.05.
* Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.10.

 

Exhibit 4.11
Availability of Durable Goods by Household Composition and Income
  Refrigerator Gas or electric stove
Household Composition
Single adulta 98.8 98.7
Married couple 99.6*** 99.4***
Other multiple adults 99.4 98.6
Under 100% FPL
Single adulta 99.0 98.3
Married couple 98.8 98.0
Other multiple adults 98.8 97.2
100-200% FPL
Single adulta 98.2 98.3
Married couple 99.3 99.0
Other multiple adults 99.1 99.0
Over 200% FPL
Single adulta 99.2 99.5
Married couple 99.8 99.7
Other multiple adults 99.7 99.0
All households 99.4 99.2
Notes:
a. Reference Category.
*** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.01.
** Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.05.
* Statistically significantly different from reference category, p < 0.10.

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