The impact of human capital and income supports in alleviating material hardships among low-income households

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Wessman, Cory
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Helen H. Jensen
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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This paper examines the differences in material hardships that exist among low-income households. The analysis draws on evidence from a recent survey of Iowa's Food Stamp households. The approach to measuring material hardships does not rely on income or other means testing, but on survey questions that quantify the degree of household material hardship. Three indexed measures of material hardship assess different aspects of hardship: food security, housing insecurity and economic insecurity. To understand the causes of material hardship, these indexes are used as dependent variables in ordinary least-squares regressions with three sets of explanatory variables: demographic variables, asset variables, and resource constraint/human capital variables. In this way, it is possible to determine how current demographic, asset, and resource constraint/human capital characteristics affect levels of well-being. The analysis reveals that the intuitively plausible relationships hold: levels of human capital, assets, and other resources are inversely related to levels of material hardship, although many of these variables are not statistically significant. In contrast, one demographic variable, being female, is shown to be a significant indicator of the prevalence of material hardships in a household. The results are shown to be useful in understanding the reasons for why different types of low-income households face different kinds of material hardships.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2001