The contribution of social support to the material well-being of low-income families

Julia R. Henly, Sandra K. Danziger, Shira Offer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

212 Scopus citations


We hypothesize that the social support available from low-income networks serves primarily a coping function, rather than a leverage function. Social support and its relationship to material well-being is assessed in a sample of 632 former and current welfare recipients. Respondents report higher levels of perceived emotional, instrumental, and informational support than perceived financial support, and received financial aid is particularly uncommon. Multivariate findings demonstrate that perceived support is unrelated to employment quality, but it reduces the likelihood of living in poverty and is associated with three different measures of coping. These findings generally support the contention that informal aid is important for the everyday survival of low-income families, but is less able to assist with economic mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-140
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Coping
  • Social networks
  • Social support
  • Welfare


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