Coping Collectively: Responses to Natural Disasters in Africa

PublishedJanuary 2023
Number of Pages51

Natural disasters occur at an increasing frequency affecting the lives of individuals in significant ways.

We study the coping responses to disasters, matching data on disaster locations with individual-level survey data from over 150,000 individuals in 37 African countries in the period 2002-2015.

Using a difference-in-differences strategy that exploits spatial and temporal distances to disaster events, we find that disaster exposure is associated with increased economic vulnerabilities.

While government support could be critical under such circumstances, we document lower evaluations of government performance and higher perceptions of government corruption in disaster-affected areas.

Our analysis of coping responses suggests that disaster-exposed individuals are at an increased likelihood of contacting leaders as a group and taking part in community meetings.

Although we document shifts in political interests and democratic attitudes in disaster-exposed individuals, we show that these bear no implication for their political activism which goes down in response to disaster exposure.