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HKS Authors

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Abstract

High-cost financial services allow economically insecure families to make ends meet but often contribute to additional financial strain in the long run. This study uses novel data from the Shift Project to describe the link between schedule unpredictability and high-cost debt (i.e., payday loans, pawnshop loans, auto-title loans, overdrafts, and problematic credit card debt) among service workers. First, it compares the relative magnitude of the associations between high-cost debt, schedule unpredictability, and levels of income. Second, it investigates whether income volatility mediates the relationship between schedule unpredictability and high-cost debt. Finally, it describes whether the link between schedule unpredictability and high-cost debt varies by institutional and policy contexts. Results indicate that schedule unpredictability is a substantively meaningful, independent, and understudied dimension of inequality in financial outcomes.

Citation

Amorim, Mariana, and Daniel Schneider. "Schedule Unpredictability and High-Cost Debt: The Case of Service Workers." Sociological Science 9.5 (April 2022): 102-135.