In recent years much research attention has been given to the role of primary groups in ameliorating stressful life events. However, little is known about what factors determine the amount of assistance people receive from relatives and friends during a situation of crisis. This is the focus of the present study. The data base is a sample of public sector workers who were involuntarily laid off from their jobs.

The data revealed that respondents received considerable assistance from parents and friends--the two primary group types included in the analysis--during the period of unemployment. Objective economic deprivation, indexed by the difference in family income during and before the period of unemployment was not a major factor in how much assistance was received. But the response to unemployment measured by cutbacks in personal consumption was significantly related to receiving assistance. Age was an important determinant of parental assistance but not assistance from friends. Frequency of social contact with parents and friends were also important determinants of the amount of assistance received. The implications of the findings are discussed.

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