Age and Well-Being after a Disaster

Elizabeth Frankenberg, Duke University
Cecep S. Sumantri, SurveyMETER

Disasters can put individuals under enormous strain and cripple systems that provide a safety net under less difficult conditions. Many have speculated that older individuals are particularly vulnerable in the face of disaster because of declines in physical and cognitive functioning that accompany aging. We use unusual data from the STAR project, which provides information from before and for five years after the Indian Ocean tsunami, to document trajectories in well-being for adults from Indonesia. We focus on measures of short-term impact (survival, trauma, loss of kin and property) and on markers that unfold over time (mental and physical health, asset ownership, labor force participation), distinguishing middle-aged from older and younger adults, and in many instances males from females. Results suggest that the strength and direction of differentials by age vary markedly across indicators but that older individuals are not systematically more disadvantaged than their younger counterparts.

  See paper

Presented in Session 43: Demography of Disasters I