Performance Improvement 2005. Measures of Material Hardship


The report pulls together, in one place, the various strands of research and thinking on defining and measuring material hardship in the U.S., with an emphasis on how this has been applied to low-income families with children. This report responds to roundtable meeting participant recommendations for: 1) additional syntheses of what is known about material hardship and its application to research with low-income families with children; and 2) further analyses of the measures that have most often been used to assess material hardship. Major findings in the report included that, 1) there is no consensus on the definition and measurement of material need. While there is some agreement on how need may be defined within a specific domain, researchers struggle with how to assess families’ overall material hardship experience across multiple aspects of need, and 2) researchers have developed material hardship indexes with some similarities in how hardship is defined, mostly in terms of families’ experience and living conditions and how they all include a core set of basic needs and food security indicators.

PIC ID: 8056; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy; Federal Contact: Isaacs, Julia, 202-690-7507; Performer: Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA

View full report


"pi_2005.pdf" (pdf, 750.85Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®