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People?s Awareness of Natural Disaster Risks: Differences across Regions and Generations


  • Erina Gyoba

    () (Intenational Research Institute of Disaster and Science of Tohoku University)


Abstract: Natural disasters have profound impacts on the sustainability of societies. Japan is a nation surrounded by the sea, and some regions are prone to suffer from natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis due to geographical characteristics. To develop and maintain a sustainable society, appropriate preventive measures should be incorporated into the social system, taking into consideration the people?s awareness of natural disaster risks. For this purpose, the present study investigated people?s sensitivity to risks induced by natural disasters, specifically focusing on a tsunami disaster. The investigation focused on the 2011 East Japan Earthquake off the Pacific Coast, and included five different participant groups: a group of residents (approximately 40 to70 years old) who directly suffered from the tsunami damage, two student groups (university and high school) located at the damaged regions, and two university student groups that were located in unaffected regions in Japan. The investigation was conducted by a questionnaire asking the participants to evaluate the safety or dangerousness of five different tsunami heights by using a five-point rating scale. The obtained data were subjected to a psychometric analysis calculating tsunami height thresholds regarded as safe. As a result, the lowest threshold of tsunami height regarded as safe was 0.94 meters for the group of residents in the damaged region. In contrast, the group of high school students in the damaged region revealed the highest threshold for the safe tsunami height, indicating that they do not feel danger until the tsunami height rises over 2.7 meters. Therefore, the residents in the damaged regions have the highest sensitivity to the risks posed by a tsunami, while the high school students in the damaged region have the lowest cautiousness despite the fact that they experienced the same disaster. Among the groups of university students, those who lived in the unaffected areas located furthest from the damaged region showed the highest threshold value of 2.56 meters, suggesting that they have very low risk sensitivity to tsunamis. These results clearly indicate that younger people and those who have not experienced a tsunami disaster are less conscious of the risks involved.Based on these differences in people?s risk awareness for natural disasters, appropriate preventive measures and educational programs should be incorporated into the social system in order to develop and maintain a sustainable society, and these should consider generational and environmental differences of residents.

Suggested Citation

  • Erina Gyoba, 2016. "People?s Awareness of Natural Disaster Risks: Differences across Regions and Generations," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 3505509, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:sek:iacpro:3505509

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    More about this item


    Awareness of Natural Disaster Risks; Environmental difference; Generation difference; Disaster Preventive Measures; Sustainable society;

    JEL classification:

    • H84 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Disaster Aid
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General

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