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Education, Vulnerability, and Resilience after a Natural Disaster

Elizabeth Frankenberg, Duke University
Bondan Sikoki, SurveyMeter
Cecep Sumantri, SurveyMeter
Wayan Suriastini, SurveyMeter
Duncan Thomas, Duke University


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The extent to which education provides protection in the face of a large-scale natural disaster is investigated. Using longitudinal population-representative survey data collected in two provinces on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, before and after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, we examine changes in a broad array of indicators of well-being of adults. Focusing on adults who were living, before the tsunami, in areas that were subsequently severely damaged by the tsunami, better educated males were more likely to survive the tsunami, but education is not predictive of survival among females. Education is not associated with levels of post-traumatic stress among survivors 1 year after the tsunami, or with the likelihood of being displaced. Where education does appear to play a role is with respect to coping with the disaster over the longer term. The better educated were far less likely than others to live in a camp or other temporary housing, moving, instead, to private homes, staying with family or friends, or renting a new home. The better educated were more able to minimize dips in spending levels following the tsunami, relative to the cuts made by those with little education. Five years after the tsunami, the better educated were in better psycho-social health than those with less education. In sum, education is associated with higher levels of resilience over the longer term.

Key words

development; disaster; education; resilience; vulnerability

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087