Natural Hazards and Well-Being in a Small-Scale Island Society

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The literature investigating the relationship between natural hazards and individuals’ subjective well-being has so far focused on industrialized countries. Using the life-satisfaction approach, this paper is the first to study the link between natural hazards, in particular heavy storms and droughts, and subjective well-being for a small-scale island society in the Pacific Ocean. Results indicate that the experience of drought markedly diminished life satisfaction, whereas the experience of storms had only somewhat negative impact. The primary driver of the negative well-being impact appeared to be damage experience for both storms and droughts. Since regular cash-income did not exist for the majority of the population, the marginal effect could not be calculated in monetary terms. To account for differences in wealth across respondents, we developed a wealth index in the form of a simple ‘asset score’. Comparing the marginal effect of the hazard variables with our measure of wealth, the positive marginal effect of doubling the number of household assets was significantly smaller than the negative impact of drought experience on subjective well-being.

Ecological Economics, 159
Paul Lohmann
Paul Lohmann
Research Associate

My research interests include behavioural environmental economics and field experiments.