Every year, climate change and rapid urbanization threaten hundreds of millions of people worldwide due to the occurrence of extreme natural events, such as cyclones, high tides, and earthquakes, in coastal megacities. My studies have found that strengthening people's connections to their community makes them more resilient in the face of disaster.
This study aimed to assess the multilevel effects of natural hazards on trust in Chinese society. Using the Chinese General Social Survey conducted in 2012 as well as provincial disaster damage records, the study examined how individuals’ past experiences of disasters and province-level damage (measured by the number of affected people, deaths, and economic loss) are associated with various forms of trust: in-group, out-group, generalized, and political trust. The results indicate that Chinese individuals with experience of disaster demonstrate higher levels of out-group trust but lower levels of political trust. Similarly, at the province level, damage from the previous 3 years of disaster events (2009–2011) was positively associated with residents’ out-group trust while negatively affecting their political trust. However, when provincial damage was aggregated for the past 5 years of disasters (2007–2011), which included the historic Sichuan earthquake of 2008, only total deaths showed a positive effect on generalized trust.
The purpose of this study is to examine the social impact of natural hazards in Japanese society. Using the Japanese General Social Survey, this study examines how citizens’ previous experiences and perceived risks of disasters are associated with their levels of four different forms of trust: in-group, out-group, generalized, and political trust. Furthermore, as the survey was conducted a year after the devastating Triple Disaster in 2011, the study examines the residents of the Tohoku region, who were the primary victims of the Triple Disaster. The results of this study suggest that the disaster experience is positively associated with trust: Japanese citizens with disaster experience had higher levels of in-group and out-group trust than those without disaster experience, and Tohoku residents showed higher levels of out-group, generalized, and political trust than the residents of other regions. Contrarily, citizens’ perceived risks of disaster showed negative relationships with trust: the Japanese citizens who perceived higher risks of disasters had lower levels of out-group, generalized, and political trust. However, the negative effects of the perceived risks of disasters significantly reduced among Tohoku residents.
"Bonding and bridging social capital and their associations with self-evaluated community resilience: A comparative study of East Asia" The purpose of this study is to test key social capital indicators in a disaster context by considering the bonding and bridging types of social capital. Using the East Asian Social Survey, this study chooses three behavioral/cognitive elements of social capital—social trust, voluntary association membership, and personal networks—and divides them into bonding and bridging social capital, in-group and out-group trust, homogeneous and heterogeneous membership, and strong and weak ties to test their effects on self-evaluated community resilience to natural hazards. The results showed that social trust and personal networks had strong positive effects, but the effect of voluntary association membership was positive in societies with high rates of membership (Japan and South Korea) and negative in a society with a low rate of membership (Taiwan). Furthermore, while bonding social capital generally showed a stronger effect than bridging social capital in East Asia, a society with more frequent and intense disasters (Japan) showed a strong effect of heterogenous membership on self-evaluated community resilience. This study connects two aspects of social capital studies—the elements and the types of social capital—and the findings imply that the relationship between social capital and community resilience may have some mediator variables.
"How do natural hazards affect participation in voluntary associations? The social impacts of disasters in Japanese society" (with Tim Fraser) This study focused on the way individuals’ past experiences with disasters and their perceived risks of disasters affect their involvement in voluntary associations, which are important indicators of social capital. Moreover, as recent social capital studies have examined the different types of associations that contribute to the formation of social capital in various ways, for the present study, associations were categorized as civic, reward based, and social/recreational. The results indicate that both respondents’ experiences with disasters and their perceived risks of disasters tend to increase both the number of associations in which they participate and their degree of involvement. However, experiences related to disasters had a higher impact on the number of associations in which residents participate than on their degree of involvement. Individuals’ experiences with disasters also increased their tendency to join civic associations, whereas their perceived risks of disasters increased participation in both civic and reward-based associations. Social/recreational associations were not significantly affected by either disaster experiences or the perceived risks of disasters.