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Responses to Economic Pressure by Low-Income Families: Financial Distress and Hopefulness


Based on Boss’ family stress model, the study examined whether financial adaptations and locus of control mediated levels of financial distress and hopefulness for low-income consumers experiencing economic pressure. Data were collected online from 221 low-income, Midwestern consumers. Structural equation modeling explored relationships. Those reporting more economic pressure reported higher financial distress, less hopefulness. When locus of control was more internal, however, participants reported less financial distress and more hopefulness. Those making more financial adjustments had more financial distress, but also more hopefulness, indicating that while the current situation was grim, adaptive responses fostered hopefulness that things would improve. Educators can emphasize financial behaviors that improve financial outcomes, facilitating greater perceived control over finances, more hopefulness, and reduced financial distress.

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This research was supported by a Grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through a partnership with United Way Worldwide. All results, interpretations and conclusions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, any of its affiliated companies, or United Way Worldwide.

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Correspondence to Aimee D. Prawitz.

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Prawitz, A.D., Kalkowski, J.C. & Cohart, J. Responses to Economic Pressure by Low-Income Families: Financial Distress and Hopefulness. J Fam Econ Iss 34, 29–40 (2013).

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  • Economic pressure
  • Financial adjustments
  • Financial distress
  • Hopefulness
  • Locus of control