Mathieu R. Despard

Mathieu R. Despard
University of North Carolina at Greensboro | UNCG · Department of Social Work

PhD, MSW

About

109
Publications
46,721
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
731
Citations
Introduction
I study financial stability and economic mobility of low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, with a particular interest in families with children. Research includes the extended child tax credit, universal basic income, tax-time savings and debt reduction, workplace financial wellness programs, student debt, emergency savings, credit, financial services, and the capacity of nonprofit organizations serving LMI households and communities.
Additional affiliations
August 2019 - present
Washington University in St. Louis
Position
  • Managing Director
August 2019 - present
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Position
  • Associate Pofessor
Description
  • I conduct research on household financial security and teach and advise MSW and PhD students.
May 2018 - July 2019
Washington University in St. Louis
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
August 2009 - May 2015

Publications

Publications (109)
Article
Full-text available
The combined supply and demand shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have created the largest consumer behavior shift in recent history, while exposing millions of households to material hardships like food insecurity and housing instability. In this study, we draw on national surveys conducted early in the pandemic to investigate the pandemic's effects...
Article
Full-text available
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to lowincome workers in the USA, yet around a quarter of EITC payments are estimated to be erroneous or fraudulent. Beginning in 2017, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 requires the Internal Revenue Service to spend additional time processing early EITC cla...
Article
Economic disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic left many households without the income necessary to meet basic needs. We describe an innovative, community-based partnership between a financial services company, philanthropic funders, and employers to provide financial assistance to hotel workers in New Orleans who lost jobs and income due to...
Article
Full-text available
The number of individuals with student loan debt who do not earn their degrees is on the rise; nevertheless, there is little research that demonstrates their current circumstances and future aspirations. We address this knowledge gap by comparing the financial distresses and re-enrollment aspirations of student debt-holders who started college but...
Article
Many people in the United States have achieved economic stability through self-employment and are often seen as embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and seizing opportunity. Yet, research also suggests that self-employment may be precarious for many people in the lower socioeconomic strata. Drawing on a unique dataset that combines longitudinal sur...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Executive Summary The 2021 temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) is unprecedented in its reach and is predicted to cut American child poverty by more than half. The expanded CTC provides families with $3,600 for every child in the household under the age of six, and $3,000 for every child between the ages of six and 17. Almost all mid...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Executive Summary In response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. federal government enacted initiatives designed to help households weather the pandemic's effects. These initiatives included expansions of existing programs, such as unemployment insurance, as well as new programs like the economic impact payments. In...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Executive Summary Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. unemployment peaked at 14.4%. While some workers have returned to payrolls, others have been left behind. This brief examines the nuances of employment changes over the course of the pandemic and the impact of those changes on household financial well-being. Our study finds that the proportio...
Article
Full-text available
Lower income households are at risk for material hardship, particularly amidst the economic fallout of COVID-19. Where one lives (e.g., suburb, small town) may affect this risk due to variable access to resources, yet the evidence is mixed concerning the influence of place. We used a pooled, national cross-sectional sample of 66,046 lower-income ta...
Article
The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial assistance to low‐ and moderate‐income workers and has been shown to reduce poverty and encourage employment. Many U.S. states have also implemented their own EITCs to supplement the federal tax credits. Leveraging unique administrative and survey data and employing a differ...
Article
Financial counseling has been found to be effective in improving consumers' credit outcomes and could be expanded through the workplace to reach lower-income workers who struggle with various financial challenges. We examine engagement and credit outcomes associated with a workplace financial counseling program offered to 2,849 front-line workers i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Findings from our study on the economic impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. households from Wave 1 of our a nationally representative sample study. We find that liquid assets held prior to the pandemic play an important role in mitigating financial distress during the early days of the pandemic, including for households experiencing job and/or income loss.
Article
Full-text available
Many U.S. households have insufficient savings to cope with income losses, expenditure shocks, and other financial emergencies, yet little research evidence explains why. Guided by Sherraden (2013) model of financial capability, we expand on prior research that examines the role of financial knowledge by incorporating additional factors and testing...
Article
Full-text available
Interest among employers is growing in employee financial wellness programs (EFWPs), a new type of benefit to address financial stress among employees. EFWP benefits include financial counseling, small-dollar loans, and savings programs that address employees’ nonretirement financial needs. Little evidence exists concerning the availability and use...
Article
Full-text available
Employee financial wellness programs (EFWPs) are a new practice that may promote financial inclusion by making it easier for workers with low- and moderate-incomes (LMI) to access financial services. We examine the strengths and limitations of workplace financial counseling, credit-building services, and small-dollar loans, and describe community c...
Article
Full-text available
As interest in youth financial inclusion continues to grow substantially, emerging research points to positive associations between students’savings and their educational outcomes. However, there is no definitive data on how assets alter student engagement, particularly in resource-limited settings. This study contributes knowledge by assessing the...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Pilot engagement and outcome study of Neighborhood Trust's Trusted Advisor workplace financial counseling program.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Pilot study of Working Credit's workplace credit-building services.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Pilot study of TrueConnect, an employer-sponsored small dollar loan (ESSDL) product offered as an alternative to high-cost credit products like payday loans.
Article
Full-text available
Employee financial wellness programs (EFWPs) are a benefit innovation that promise to address the financial challenges of employees while also benefiting employers. Results from a mixed-methods study of employers suggest early adopters appear to be motivated primarily by a desire to help employees. EFWP success may depend on promotion by organizati...
Article
Full-text available
Asset-accumulation interventions are promising tools for promoting better educational outcomes. However, little is known about the educational effects of youth-owned assets, particularly in resource-limited countries. The Ghana YouthSave Experiment established a rigorous foundation for exploring youth responses when offered opportunities to save fo...
Chapter
From a book review published by Karun Singh published in Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance (https://doi.org/10.1080/23303131.2019.1702603) "Chapter 4 emphasizes the crucial role that financial inclusion activities and instruments frequently play in supporting vulnerable clients to build their assets, improve their st...
Chapter
From a book review published by Karun Singh published in Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance (https://doi.org/10.1080/23303131.2019.1702603): "Chapter 9 refers to the imperative of deploying an array of financial technology (FinTech) innovations in mobile applications and online programs that promote financial inclusio...
Article
This study extends research on financial inclusion by exploring the composition of financial services within communities. Using propensity-score-adjusted probit regression, we explored associations with savings account ownership using restriscted-access, cross-sectional data from the 2015 National Financial Capability Study with merged financial se...
Chapter
Financial inclusion, the goal of financial access, broadly refers to the ability of all people in a society to access and be empowered to use safe, affordable, relevant, and convenient financial products and services for achieving their goals. Financial inclusion promotes household and societal financial well-being and requires access to an array o...
Article
Full-text available
Low- and moderate-income (LMI) households need financial assets to help cope with income and expenditure shocks. Prior research identifies racial differences in wealth and wealth effects. We examined whether these gaps and effects exist for liquid financial assets. Using group invariance tests in structural equation modeling, we assessed the relati...
Article
Being unbanked makes it difficult for low and moderate-income (LMI) households to manage finances, save, and access credit. We assessed effects of an online tax-time savings intervention on savings account openings in the 6 months following tax filing among a sample of 4,692 LMI tax filers. Treatment group participants had 60% greater odds of openi...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose: Nonprofit health and human service organizations (NPHSOs) encounter pressure to improve program quality to continue to secure financial resources. Yet, organizations also struggle to innovate, evaluate, and monitor quality absent sufficient resources. This study explores the relationship between NPHSOs' financial health and quality indica...
Technical Report
Full-text available
We examine differences by race/ethnicity of low- and moderate-income employees (N=16,650) concerning awareness and utilization of employee financial wellness program services, and benefits derived from these services.
Technical Report
Full-text available
We examine differences by financial circumstances of low- and moderate-income employees (N=16,650) concerning awareness and utilization of employee financial wellness program services, and benefits derived from these services. We found that recent experience with material hardship and financial shocks was associated with greater awareness of these...
Article
Material hardship is common among low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. Without liquid financial assets, these households are more likely to experience hardship in the face of financial shocks—large and unexpected expenses or dips in income. Authors hypothesized that shocks have a direct effect on hardship, and that liquid financial assets par...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Refund to Savings (R2S) Initiative is a collaborative effort of Washington University in St. Louis, Duke University, and Intuit, the makers of TurboTax. With the tools of behavioral economics, the initiative has constructed and tests low-touch, scalable interventions designed to encourage tax-time saving in an online tax preparation environment. Sp...
Article
Full-text available
Tax refunds give many low-and moderate-income (LMI) households a rare opportunity to save for unexpected expenses. We conducted three experiments aimed at increasing tax-time savings by LMI consumers. In a large field experiment, the most effective intervention increased the average savings deposits by about 50%. Delivered as people filed taxes onl...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The UNC Center for Community Capital (CCC) partnered with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMC) for an in-depth investigation into the intersecting roles of housing and place in linking low- and moderate income (LMI) families to opportunity in sites in San Francisco and New Orleans. The goal of the study was to develop a mixed-methods approach to understandi...
Article
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play important roles in social development in the Global South. However, little evidence exists concerning NGOs’ capacity-building needs. We sought to understand organizational and network factors that explain capacity-building needs. Using an online survey of 282 NGOs in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, we found high...
Chapter
Nearly half of all American households are financially insecure, without adequate savings to meet basic living expenses for three months. We can significantly reduce economic hardship and the debilitating effects of poverty by adopting social policies that bolster lifelong income generation and safe retirement accounts; expand workforce training an...
Article
Full-text available
Material and health care hardship is common among households with low incomes and is associated with a host of adverse outcomes but can be mitigated with having savings. The authors assessed the effects of online tax-time savings interventions informed by behavioral economics on hardship among a sample of low- and moderate-income tax filers (N = 4,...
Article
Full-text available
Financial capability – financial knowledge, skills, and access to financial services – may help smooth transitions to adulthood for youth and is affected by socialization experiences with parents and other family members. Among a sample of youth and their parents enrolled in the YouthSave experiment in Ghana (N=4,065), this study examined whether p...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Using insights from employers and employees to generate evidence on employee financial wellness programs (EFWPs), this research report illustrates findings from a mixed-methods study assessing the potential of these programs to increase the financial stability of American workers. The research team surveyed employers that offered or were interested...
Article
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) experience financial challenges that hinder efforts to promote social change and development. Revenue diversification is one adaptive response to these challenges, yet there is a lack of evidence concerning the relationship between revenue diversification and financial vulnerability...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Metropolitan areas are places where the majority of residents in the US live and work. Each of these areas has unique features regarding education, employment, public transit options, arts, recreation, and worship opportunities. Each metropolitan area also has a unique financial services landscape – a mix of both mainstream and alternative financia...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Postal banking through the US Postal Service has been recommended as one option for improving the availability of safe and affordable financial products and services in lower-income and minority communities. Advocates of postal banking suggest that post offices have maintained their presence in communities vacated by banks and credit unions and inu...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A household with good financial health owns basic financial products and uses these products to navigate their day-to-day financial needs, such as managing and paying their bills. However, one potential pitfall that households may face as they try to navigate their finances is that certain types of financial services may not be readily available in...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A household’s ability to adjust to changing financial circumstances provides evidence of good financial health and demonstrates their resilience in the face of unexpected financial emergencies. To reinforce their resilience, households may use savings, credit, and insurance from financial services such as banks, credit unions, and alternative finan...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Households need access to financial services that enhance their long-term financial health by providing opportunities to accumulate assets and build credit. Under this purview, banks and credit unions can be used for future investment, and alternative financial service (AFS) providers have been heavily critiqued for their role in undermining househ...
Article
Objective: More information is needed about the financial experiences of justice-involved persons with severe mental illness. Methods: Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to examine the financial resources, financial risk experiences, and financial literacy of a random sample of 12 mental health court participants. Results: Mental health...
Article
Alternative financial services (AFS) such as check cashing and payday loans may help unbanked households meet transaction and credit needs, yet often at a very high price. Saving tax refunds can help low- and moderate-income (LMI) households build emergency savings as a way to reduce dependence on AFS and cope effectively with irregular cash flows...
Article
Full-text available
Objective A lack of emergency savings renders low-income households vulnerable to material hardships resulting from unexpected expenses or loss of income. Having emergency savings helps these households respond to unexpected events, maintain consumption, and avoid high-cost credit products. Because many low-income households receive sizable federal...
Article
Student debt has risen in recent years as higher education costs have shifted to students and their families, particularly those with low-to-moderate incomes (LMI). Though a college degree continues to convey higher earnings, those who finance their degrees have lower net worth and greater financial difficulties than persons without student debt. W...
Article
Organizational capacity is the set of structures and functions a nonprofit organization needs to effectively serve the community. Although capacity is defined in the nonprofit literature, no standardized measures exist, making it difficult to accurately assess organizational capacity. Data from a survey of nonprofit human service organizations (N =...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Health insurance is an important resource for enabling access to and use of medical care, and is associated with reduced risk for mortality and poor health outcomes. Health insurance also protects households from incurring major medical expenses and unmanageable levels of medical debt. About a quarter of a sample of low- and moderate-income (LMI) t...
Article
Full-text available
Research suggests that interest in macro social work practice is declining, a trend that has been well documented in the United States. Studies find that social work educators and practitioners may foster beliefs among MSW students that discredit macro practice and associated skills while asserting macro graduates are likely to face poorer employme...