Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Forrest A. Deseran


My purpose in this dissertation is to examine the extent to which recipients report social capital in the form of social support and what I call informal assistance. I define informal assistance as those assets that assist in the daily lives of welfare recipients. This dissertation examines the role of residence, human capital, family of origin, and current household structure on informal assistance. I also compare the forms of assistance and instrumental resources of non-metropolitan and metropolitan welfare recipients to determine whether geographic context mediates the use of informal assistance. Data for this study were from the Louisiana State University Survey for Families and Households and collected between 1998 and 1999. All data were based on self-reported information. Within the entire sample, human capital and current household structure factors were found to be important predictors of assistance. In particular, age and co-residing adults had a strong effect on the likelihood of assistance. My findings indicate that informal assistance is most likely when other adults live with the respondent. Hence, those who are not fortunate enough to live with another adult who can provide assistance have a significantly reduced likelihood of receiving assistance. This is particularly the case for assistance from siblings or parents. Whether one lived in a metropolitan or non-metropolitan area yielded mixed results for informal assistance. In general, metropolitan and non-metropolitan respondents were equally likely to report most forms of assistance, although a few exceptions were noted. Non-metro respondents were more likely to report transportation assistance and help from parents and other relatives. It appears that in non-metropolitan models, current family and employment factors affected the likelihood of assistance more so than in the metropolitan models. The patterns of metropolitan assistance were not very distinct from those factors affecting assistance within the entire sample. Informal assistance is primarily received by the young and those residing with other adults. My findings indicate that social capital, in the form of social support, is largely affected by some forms of human capital and current household structure.