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The Role Of Social Psychological Factors In Vulnerability To Financial Hardship

Journal of Consumer Affairs

Dee Warmath, Genevieve Elizabeth O'Connor, Nancy Wong, Casey Newmeyer


Previous research attributes vulnerability to financial hardship either to structural inequities or to poor financial behavior. Less attention has been paid to the role of social psychological factors or to the relative contribution of demographics, behavior, and social psychology in understanding an individual's vulnerability to financial hardship. While studies have examined psychosocial factors in financial outcomes, we argue that these factors represent a missing perspective in the construction of interventions to lessen vulnerability. We further argue that a holistic perspective considering all three factors is needed to address vulnerability to financial hardship. Capitalizing on the richness of the CFPB National Financial Well-Being Survey data (n = 6394), we examine the unique contribution of psychosocial factors in explaining an individual's financial vulnerability over and above demographics and behaviors. Using four different measures of financial hardship, we find that all three types of factors play important roles in understanding vulnerability to financial hardship. Our findings suggest that more holistic measures and interventions are needed to enhance consumer financial well-being.

Financial Well-Being, Financial Hardship, Financial Vulnerability


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