Giving Unto Others: Private Financial Transfers and Hardship Among Families with Children

June 2016

Natasha Pilkauskas, University of Michigan, Colin Campbell, University of Wisconsin, and Christopher Wimer, Columbia University

Download '2016-03-npc-working-paper.pdf'.


Prior research shows that financial assistance from family and friends is an important source of support for families with children. However, research on financial transfers has largely focused on the recipients of transfers. In this study, longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n~16,000 person-waves) is used to examine the association between the provision of financial assistance to family and friends and material hardship. Results from pooled regression and fixed effects models indicate that providing financial transfers is associated with an increased risk of hardship; however, financial transfers are more strongly associated with bill and food hardship, not housing, utility, or medical hardship. Furthermore, the association between providing financial transfers and hardship is strongest for the most economically disadvantaged groups and families who give smaller amounts of money. These findings have important implications for understanding how exchanges of financial assistance relate to poverty and economic self-sufficiency.