Low-income households who report having strong social support networks tend to experience lower rates of material hardship, based on data from the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation. The strength of ones support network is measured by the extent of help one expects to receive if needed from family, friends, and community. Results are significant across a range of hardships related to housing, utilities, medical care, and food. The greater vulnerability to hardship among those with weaker support networks suggests that government benefit programs should be targeted, whenever possible, to those less likely to have access to such support.
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