Do tropical typhoons smash community ties? Theory and evidence from Vietnam
Natural disasters trigger large inequalities between affected households and the rest of the community. The extent to which villages compensate for these shocks allegedly depends on the pressure imposed by the group of needy families. I model two major threats to redistribution - (i) the emergence of acoalition of winners willing to shy away from redistributing to their peers and (ii) the initial fractionalization of the community. Matching data on a wave of tropical typhoons with a panel household survey in Vietnam, I find less redistribution in villages where needy families are in the minority. Whereas 17 cents on average are covered through informal transfers for a relative income loss of $1, access to liquidity falls below 10 cents when heavily affected households are isolated in the commune. In line with the existing literature, minorities participate less in the resources reallocation. Despite these barriers to full insurance, risk-sharing through informal transfers is still economically significant. This result is related with the findings that communities having suffered important trauma show greater signs of resilience and cohesiveness.
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