How can the human dimensions of disaster impacts be more accurately captured and represented in the analysis, modeling and simulation of disasters?
Economic resilience is a critical component to human dimensions of disasters. The institutions that provide essential input services and products to communities affected by disasters; including critical lifeline infrastructure; ultimately shape and influence the manner by which local economies and regions cope; adapt to; and rebound from catastrophic disruptions. Over the past decade; there have been significant advances in our ability to conceptualize and empirically measure economic resilience at the micro-; meso-; and macroeconomic levels. These advancements include observational data collection through surveys; simulation and modeling including econometric analyses; production and cost modeling approaches; as well as sociological; ethnographic and psychological studies informing both the supply and demand side of impacted markets. In their forthcoming chapter in the Handbook on the Economics of Disasters; Dormady; Rose and Morin (2022) provide a comprehensive assessment of advances in the empirical estimation of hazard resilience. They cover numerous methodologies and approaches to evaluating core research questions in this domain; including the use of objective and empirical resilience metrics. They highlight key data and analytical challenges unique to disaster resilience analysis. At its core; these challenges are unlike any other; as post-disaster observational data collection efforts through surveys or other means are among the most challenging types of data to obtain. Standard equilibrium modeling approaches are limited in their ability to adequately capture disequilibrium conditions that exist in disruptions. Consequently; the next phase of advancement in this field will require novel new approaches to obtaining observational data from firms; households and institutions.
What type of data and supporting research infrastructure would be necessary to enable novel, transdisciplinary approaches to answering these and other human-centered disaster questions?
The collection of actual post-disaster observational data offers; in our view; greater promise to advancing resilience analysis into its future. This is because observational data; if collected and structured well; can address otherwise unobservable features of microeconomic actions; in particular resilience actions of firms and households; that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to measure using modeling approaches that are based upon assumed optimal behavior or data collected during non-hazard situations. Post-disaster observational data can also be used to inform and validate modeling efforts. Recent advancements in post-disaster observational data collection have substantiated the fact that firms and households seldom avoid the full extent of economic losses; and oftentimes they make information-constrained cost-ineffective decisions. Consequently; new advancements are needed to identify and measure micro-targeted individual firm- and household-level resilience tactics; to empirically estimate their prevalence; limitations; effectiveness; and cost-effectiveness. Cross-platform survey tools are; in many instances; necessary but cost prohibitive to university budgets unless researchers are in possession of a large institutional budget or grant. These include access to professional survey research firms such as those used by Dormady et al. (2022). Multidisciplinary consortia of hazard-related survey researchers should be considered for priority federal funding. This would include a survey research consortia that proactively; rather than reactively; is on standby at the inception of the next disaster; ready and enabled to administer observational data collection efforts in real-time; without administrative; budgetary or regulatory lags that may impede their effectiveness.
In what ways can US-Japan collaborations advance these questions in new and important ways?
There are existing US-Japan collaborations in the economic resilience domain that can be leveraged to inform and advance the future of hazard resilience research. The group of three scholars that are collaborating on this position paper (Hirokazu Totano at Kyoto University; Yoshio Kajitani at Kagawa University; and Noah Dormady at The Ohio State University) began a research collaboration to foster and share inter-institutional knowledge on advancements in collecting post-disaster observational data to inform the next phase of economic resilience research. Because of inherent similarities in economic institutions; globalization and supply-chain interdependencies; and regional hazard exposure and vulnerability; the United States and Japan are in a unique position to form meaningful trans-Pacific partnerships that can advance dissemination of shared tools; resources; and even pitfalls; that can strengthen and improve the next generation of research. This includes dissemination of survey research methodologies and empirical resilience metrics; dialogue and discussion of lessons learned and future directions; innovations in sampling approaches and sourcing; and of course innovative methodologies for empirically analyzing collected data and integrating those data into other studies; simulations or models. Through sharing and dialogue regarding their shared experiences in collecting and analyzing observational hazard data in both the US and Japan; this trans-Pacific group has highlighted new questions regarding measurement methodologies and survey approaches that can improve the ways in which we evaluate topics such as static versus dynamic resilience. Fostering and supporting these sorts of collaborations can further improve this important field and improve knowledge networks.