Population and Environment

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 115–135 | Cite as

Disasters, local organizations, and poverty in the USA, 1998 to 2015

  • Kevin T. SmileyEmail author
  • Junia Howell
  • James R. Elliott


Disaster research has drawn attention to how natural hazards transform local organizational dynamics and social inequalities. It has yet to examine how these processes unfold together over time. We begin to fill this gap with a county-level, longitudinal analysis that examines how property damages from natural hazards correlate not only with local shifts in poverty a year later but also counts of for-profit as well as bonding and bridging social capital organizations. Results show that poverty and all organizational types tend to increase with local hazard damages. They also show that poverty tends to increase most where the number of bonding social capital organizations is also increasing. This pattern suggests a Janus-faced dynamic in which bonding, or more inwardly focused, organizations that arise after disaster may end up inadvertently marginalizing those in more dire need.


Disasters Natural hazards Social capital Poverty Bonding social capital Bridging social capital 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water (RENEW) InstituteUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Rice UniversityHoustonUSA

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