Poverty and Disasters in the United States: A Review of Recent Sociological Findings

Abstract

This article synthesizes the literature on poverty and disasters in the United States and presents the results from a wide range of studies conducted over the past twenty years. The findings are organized into eight categories based on the stages of a disaster event. The review illustrates how people of different socioeconomic statuses perceive, prepare for, and respond to natural hazard risks, how low-income populations may be differentially impacted, both physically and psychologically, and how disaster effects vary by social class during the periods of emergency response, recovery, and reconstruction. The literature illustrates that the poor in the United States are more vulnerable to natural disasters due to such factors as place and type of residence, building construction, and social exclusion. The results have important implications for social equity and recommendations for future research and policy implementation are offered.

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Fothergill, A., Peek, L.A. Poverty and Disasters in the United States: A Review of Recent Sociological Findings. Natural Hazards 32, 89–110 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:NHAZ.0000026792.76181.d9

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  • natural disasters
  • poverty
  • social equity
  • socioeconomic status
  • United States