Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Social Work

First Advisor

Raheim, Salome

First Committee Member

Dorfman, Lorraine

Second Committee Member

Landsman, Miriam

Third Committee Member

Saunders, Edward

Fourth Committee Member

Wieting, Stephen


INTRODUCTION. Although seldom a mainstream topic in social work, the financial functioning of individuals and families plays a central role in well-being. The time is right to better understand the workings of low-income families, especially in this uncertain economic climate. Matched savings program called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) provide a context for investigating how low-income parents save and accumulate assets. IDAs offer a unique means for a systematic study of the saving strategies used by low-income individuals and how the decision to save may create hardships for themselves and their families.

There is still a pressing need for more research that can help clarify parental saving strategies, the factors facilitating or impeding saving, and the potential hardships low-income savers face. Of critical importance to the field is research that helps to better understand what sacrifices low-income parents make when they have made the decision to secure a better future for their families.

METHODS. The sample is 150 savers from a statewide matched savings program. This study is a secondary analysis of telephone survey and administrative data. Bivariate and multivariate statistical tests were conducted to test six hypotheses. The variables of interest are saving strategies, saving supports, and hardships.

RESULTS. Parents who have a history of saving use significantly more helpful saving strategies than respondents without a saving history. Parents who have a history of saving experience less severe hardship than parents who do not have a history of saving. Also, married parents experience fewer hardships than non-married parents. Minority parents experience significantly less intense saving supports than non-minority parents. There was not a relationship between the number of helpful saving strategies and the age of the saver. A relationship was not found between the saver's age or number of children and the number of hardships experienced.


low-income, parents, saving strategies, hardships, matched-savings program


vii, 107 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 95-107).


Copyright 2008 Jan Leiann Losby

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