The Physical and Social Determinants of Mortality in the 3.11 Tsunami
31 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 7, 2014
The human consequences of the 3.11 tsunami were not distributed equally across the municipalities of the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan. Instead, the mortality rate from the massive wave varied tremendously from zero to close to ten percent of the local residential population. What accounts for this variation remains a critical question for researchers and policy makers alike. This paper uses a new, sui generis data set including all villages, towns, and cities on the Pacific Ocean side of the Tohoku region to untangle the factors connected to mortality during the disaster. With data on demographic, geophysical, infrastructure, social capital, and political conditions for 133 municipalities, we find that tsunami height, stocks of social capital, and demographic conditions strongly influenced mortality rates. Given the high probability of future large scale catastrophes, these findings have important policy implications for disaster mitigation policies in Japan and abroad.
Keywords: natural disasters, tsunami, mortality, social capital, quantitative, Japan
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