Attributions About Homelessness in Homeless and Domiciled People in Madrid, Spain: “Why Are They Homeless People?”

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Abstract

Causal attributions of homelessness may affect both the design and acceptance of public policies aimed at improving the situation of homeless people and the strategies that homeless people themselves decide to adopt in order to cope with their situation. This article analyzes the differences in causal attributions of homelessness based on gender, age, nationality, educational background, perceived social class, evolution of personal economic situation, and future expectations between the members of 2 groups: (a) “homeless group”, consisting of a representative sample of homeless people in Madrid, Spain (n = 188); and (b) “domiciled group”, consisting of a sample of people in Madrid at no risk of homelessness (n = 180), matched for sex, age and nationality. Results show that among domiciled population, women, older people, those without university education, those considering themselves to belong to lower income social classes, those who considered their economic situation to have worsened, and those who expressed negative expectations for the future attributed homelessness to individualistic courses to a greater extent. Meanwhile, among homeless group, younger people, those without university education, those considering themselves to belong to higher social classes, those who perceived their economic situation as having improved in recent years, and those who expressed positive expectations for the future generally attributed homelessness to individualistic courses to a greater extent.

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