Articles & Special Issues Financial Capability Financial Inclusion

Improved Financial Capability Can Reduce Material Hardship Among Mothers

This study draws on the theoretical framework of financial capability in investigating whether financial access (that is, availability of financial products and services) and financial knowledge (that is, understanding of basic financial concepts) can influence the risk of material hardship. Authors examine the possibility of direct associations as well as of indirect ones in which financial management (that is, individual financial behaviors) serves as a mediator. The probability sample of mothers with young children born in Oklahoma during 2007 (N = 2,529) was selected from Oklahoma birth certificates. Results from structural equation modeling analyses show that financial access is positively associated with financial management (p < .001) but that financial knowledge is not; both financial access (p < .001) and financial management (p < .001) are negatively correlated with material hardship. Similar results are obtained from analyses with a subsample of low-income mothers. Findings suggest that financial capability, particularly the financial access component, is critical for improving financial management and reducing the risk of material hardship among mothers with young children, including low-income mothers. Efforts to promote financial capability offer social workers an important strategy for improving their clients’ economic well-being.


Huang, J., Nam, Y., Sherraden, M., & Clancy, M. M. (2016). Improved financial capability can reduce material hardship among mothers. Social Work, 61(4), 313–320. doi:10.1093/sw/sww052