Panel Paper: Power of Social Relations: Social Capital and Recovery Outcomes Post Wenchuan Earthquake

Friday, November 9, 2018
8228 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Tianyi Xiang, Arizona State University and Bo Liu, Tsinghua University

The responsibility for managing the post-disaster recovery tasks typically falls to governments. Because the common policy focus for disaster recovery is to strengthen physical infrastructure, restore the built environment, and revitalize the local economy, most research focuses on these efforts. Less research has focused on how communities utilize the resources embedded in their social connections (e.g. social capital) to respond to disasters.

The current literature acknowledges the importance of social capital in the disaster recovery. However, very few studies explore how different types of social capital (e.g. bonding, bridging, and linking) drive post-disaster recovery performance. Understanding the varying role of different types of social capital on disaster recover can provide government insights in developing policy tool to enhance social relations and maximize recovery outcomes. This paper focuses on social capital and rural household recovery outcomes. Social capital and mutual support might play the larger role in rural areas in that rural households have relative limited access to external resources and stronger connectedness to their communities. Using household data from 2009 and 2012 following the 2008 Sichuan Province Wenchuan Earthquake, this research investigates how different types of social capital affect short-term post disaster recovery outcomes and life satisfaction, satisfaction toward local government, and self-perceived economic status in the longer term. We use both OLS and ordered logistic models to investigate the role of social capital in predicting recovery outcomes.

The findings contribute to the current literature by advancing our understanding of disaster recovery in rural households and examining the effect of different types of social capital. Given the rural households are socially vulnerable to the disaster in China, this findings also provide actionable, evidence-based policy recommendations for local emergency managers on facilitating recovery among socially vulnerable groups.