Household vulnerability and economic status during disaster recovery and its determinants: a case study after the Wenchuan earthquake

Abstract

Although poverty analyses have dominated post-disaster assessments, household vulnerability analyses should receive more attention. Various methods have been developed to measure household vulnerability, and some studies have attempted to apply them to post-disaster assessments in China. Based on survey data collected after the Wenchuan earthquake in China, this paper attempts to compare the following three methods for assessing household vulnerability and household economic status during disaster recovery in China: vulnerability measured by expected poverty (VEP), vulnerability measured by household income (VHI), and vulnerability measured by subjective evaluation (VSE). The VEP method is a relatively more comprehensive method when combined with poverty analysis. The VHI method is useful when the main research aim is to identify households’ vulnerability in income generation and long-term regional economic development. Studies that aim to identify the direct impact of a disaster and research on relief work will find the VSE method very relevant. Bearing this in mind, understanding the specific advantages and focus of each method is crucial to conducting needs-assessment studies on household vulnerability and to forming and implementing policies for disaster recovery and poverty alleviation.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    See the detailed description of the assumptions regarding the stochastic process generating consumption in Chaudhuri et al. (2002).

  2. 2.

    Detailed sampling information refers to Dalen et al. (2012).

  3. 3.

    The main concern in this paper is to measure household vulnerability with different measures. Different measures of the poverty line will influence the vulnerability level; however, it is beyond scope of this paper.

  4. 4.

    The five categories of members’ occupation are dummy variables. They are complementary but not duplicated. The occupations are classified as five progressive types, from low to high: (1) agriculture; (2) odd jobs; (3) service and industry; (4) private or individual businesses; and (5) leaders/managers/professionals/technicians/economic business and other office workers. When households had members working in two or more types of occupations, the households are categorized as highest type of occupation. Such classification of members’ occupation at the family level is based on the assumption that household income level is affected to the largest extent by better-paying jobs.

  5. 5.

    This last group of independent variables is not eligible for the 2008 regression.

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Huafeng, Z. Household vulnerability and economic status during disaster recovery and its determinants: a case study after the Wenchuan earthquake. Nat Hazards 83, 1505–1526 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-016-2373-2

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Keywords

  • Household vulnerability
  • Post-disaster assessment
  • Poverty
  • Risks

JEL Classifications

  • I32
  • D31