Economic hardship refers to psychological distress that results from a perception of relatively low economic resources (Barrera et al. 2001). Hardship is contrasted with poverty, which is simply the lack of economic resources. Economic hardship does not need to involve an actual lack of economic resources, but simply a perception of this deficit. Economic perceptions are heavily influenced by comparative processes (Kraus and Park 2014). Consequently, economic hardship is closely related to how one’s economic resources compare to others. Hardship is also related to competitive disadvantage, which describes when an individual is disadvantaged relative to competitors in hierarchical social structures. When one perceives themselves as having fewer resources compared to their competition – due to such factors as economic hardship – they may infer competitive disadvantage.
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