Acute care utilization and housing hardships in American children

Publication Year


Journal Article

Millions of families in the United States are economically vulnerable: one shock can lead to hardship. We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the association between acute healthcare utilization – emergency room visits or hospitalizations – and subsequent housing hardships, such as being evicted for financial reasons. Further, we explore whether this association differs by who in the family utilized the care and whether perceived social support protects against hardship when these experiences occur. Using lagged dependent variable regression models, we find that families that visited the emergency room or were hospitalized, regardless if it was a child or parent with this experience, were five percentage points more likely to experience any housing hardship than families that did not use acute care. Among families in which a child utilized acute care, perceived social support buffered the impact of using acute care. That perceived social support is associated with a lower likelihood of housing hardship among families that experienced acute care utilization for a child, but not parent, suggests that social support may be able to offset the challenges arising from children’s, but not adults’, use of acute care. In the face of economic precarity, informal safety nets may be insufficient to reduce the impact of acute care utilization on housing hardships.

Children and Youth Services Review
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