Effects of unemployment and underemployment on material hardship in single-mother families

Mary Keegan Eamon, Chi-Fang Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using data from the 2004 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), this study examined relationships between employment problems and four types of material hardship among single-mother families. Although a bill-paying hardship was the most common hardship reported by the mothers (41%), 38% of the families experienced a health hardship, 33% suffered a food hardship, and 25% had a housing hardship. The multivariate results indicate that compared with families whose mothers were adequately employed, families whose mothers were unemployed/had involuntary job gaps and were underemployed had heightened risks of experiencing bill-paying, health, and housing hardships. Only unemployment/involuntary job gaps was related to having a food hardship. A number of other factors associated with experiencing material hardship also were identified. Finally, implications for social work practice and social policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-241
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Material hardship
  • Single-mother families
  • Underemployment
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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