Social, Not Physical, Infrastructure: The Critical Role of Civil Society in Disaster Recovery
34 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
Despite the tremendous destruction wrought by catastrophes, social science holds few quantitative assessments of explanations for the rate of recovery. This article illuminates four factors - damage, population density, human capital, and economic capital - thought to explain the variation in the pace of population recovery following disaster along with the popular but relatively untested factor of social capital. Using time-series cross-sectional models and propensity score matching, I test these approaches using new data from the rebuilding of 39 neighborhoods in Tokyo after its 1923 earthquake. Social capital, more than earthquake damage, population density, human capital, or economic capital, best predicts population recovery in post-quake Tokyo. These findings suggest new approaches for research on social capital and disasters along with public policy avenues for handling catastrophe.
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