A Fundamental Vulnerability: Contributions from Population Studies
College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University
Visid Prachuabmoh Building, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Abundant studies have researched the economic and social shifts associated with demographic transitions. There have also been many studies on the essentials of disaster preparedness and recovery. However, few studies have investigated these factors in combination. Therefore, this study explored how demographic shifts such as a decreasing and aging population impact disaster recovery and efforts to build a sustainable society. It examined coastal communities in Japan’s Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures that were affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) from the perspective of two disaster-recovery theories: (1) Bates and Peacock argued that disaster recovery continues or accelerates a community’s pre-disaster trends [1, 2]; and (2) Hirose argued that disaster-recovery efficacy depends on the disaster scale, outside aid, and community strength . This study’s analyses support the first theory while stating that a community’s pre-disaster demographic and social trends have a more significant effect on disaster recovery success than the disaster scale and outside aid considering the second theory. The study reiterates that disaster recovery begins before a disaster, and demographic variables should affect plans to build a sustainable society. Finally, this note shows how the lessons learned from the 2011 GEJET disaster can provide the insights to improve disaster risk management in societies with declining and aging populations.
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