PROJECTThe Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey

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  • Federal and state policymakers are weighing changes to programs that help low-income people meet their basic needs for food, medical care, and shelter. As they consider these changes to the public safety net, policymakers have few tools to monitor trends in material hardship as the economy evolves and new policies take effect.

    To fill this gap, the Urban Institute launched the Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey (WBNS) in December 2017 to track individual and family well-being at a time when the safety net faces transition. By assessing the ability of adults and their families to meet basic needs, the survey can provide a broader understanding of material well-being than income-based poverty indicators.

    What does the survey entail?

    The new annual survey is a key component of Urban’s From Safety Net to Solid Ground Initiative, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations. The project offers insights into how proposed changes to programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could affect the well-being of people striving to cover their basic needs.

    The WBNS is a nationally representative survey of adults ages 18 to 64 that covers topics related to health, material hardship, and individual and family well-being, as well as the interaction of adults and their families with major safety net programs. The survey’s core domains include health status and health care, housing and neighborhoods, family income, program participation, food security, employment, and family financial security.

    Research Areas Health and health care
    Tags From Safety Net to Solid Ground
    Policy Centers Health Policy Center