The remainder of Chapter 1 discusses the motivation for measuring material hardship, including its potential to supplement existing income-based poverty measures. It also discusses some of the known weaknesses and limitations associated with measuring material hardship.
Chapter 2 focuses on clarifying what we mean by material need and identifies challenges and strategies with measuring this construct. First, we distinguish deprivation and, more specifically, material hardship from other common definitions of poverty. We subsequently present a possible conceptual model for defining material need. The chapter concludes with a discussion of some of the challenges that must be faced when developing a definition of material hardship and corresponding measurement strategies.
Chapter 3 reviews how material hardship has been measured in nine studies conducted in the US. It examines how these studies have defined material hardship and the approaches used to construct material hardship indexes. It subsequently distinguishes among the indicators that researchers have used to measure material need in these indexes and identifies those measures, taken from the SIPP, that have been most frequently used by researchers to construct hardship indexes.
Lastly, Chapter 4 builds on the previous chapters and presents analyses of material hardship among households with children, using measures from the 1996 SIPP's Adult Well-being topical module. The potential usefulness of various proposed material hardship measures depends on how these measures vary across households that have diverse experiences and live in different situations. The chapter uses the SIPP to provide concrete data examples and descriptive analyses of the measures that are most commonly used to construct material hardship indexes. The chapter concludes with a discussion of unanswered questions and options for future research.