Material Hardship and Macroeconomic Performance Across Space, Time and Race

WCPC Seminar Series on Poverty and Policy: Winter 2009

Presented by Colleen Heflin
Assistant Professor of Public Affairs
University of Missouri
Monday, March 9, 2009  3:00 - 4:00 p.m., questions/discussion until 4:30 p.m.
Parrington Hall Commons, Room 308
University of Washington


Colleen Heflin received her doctorate in Sociology from the University of Michigan and is currently an Assistant Professor at the Truman School of Public Affairs and a Policy Fellow at the Institute of Public Policy at the University of Missouri. Her work focuses on the intersection between social stratification, health and public policy. Over the last decade she has researched the determinants and consequences of material hardship (indicators of an inability to meet basic needs). She is currently involved in an evaluation of the effect of Internet-based service delivery tools on the program participation of families eligible for the Food Stamp Program in Florida.


This paper examines the effect of macroeconomic performance on measures of material hardship in the United States over the 1993-2005 time period. As alternative measures of well-being, material hardship indicators are based on household level self-reports of an inability to meet basic needs and supplement our knowledge of the welfare of the population. Using individual-level data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation supplemented with state-level data, this paper utilizes hierarchical models to capture the relationship between both household and state-level factors in predicting household-level measures of material hardship.