Learn from the Past, Prepare for the Future: Impacts of Education and Experience on Disaster Preparedness in the Philippines and Thailand

Roman Hoffmann, Raya Muttarak

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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This study aims at understanding the role of education in promoting disaster preparedness. Strengthening resilience to
climate-related hazards is an urgent target of Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Preparing for a disaster such as stockpiling
of emergency supplies or having a family evacuation plan can substantially minimize loss and damages from natural hazards. However,
the levels of household disaster preparedness are often low even in disaster-prone areas. Focusing on determinants of personal disaster
preparedness, this paper investigates: (1) pathways through which education enhances preparedness; and (2) the interplay between education
and experience in shaping preparedness actions. Data analysis is based on face-to-face surveys of adults aged 15 years [or older] in Thailand
(N = 1,310) and the Philippines (N = 889, female only). Controlling for socio-demographic and contextual characteristics, we find
that formal education raises the propensity to prepare against disasters. Using the KHB method to further decompose the education
effects, we find that the effect of education on disaster preparedness is mainly mediated through social capital and disaster risk perception
in Thailand whereas there is no evidence that education is mediated through observable channels in the Philippines. This suggests that
the underlying mechanisms explaining the education effects are highly context-specific. Controlling for the interplay between education
and disaster experience, we show that education raises disaster preparedness only for those households that have not been affected by a
disaster in the past. Education improves abstract reasoning and anticipation skills such that the better educated undertake preventive
measures without needing to first experience the harmful event and then learn later. In line with recent efforts of various UN agencies
in promoting education for sustainable development, this study provides a solid empirical evidence showing positive externalities of education
in disaster risk reduction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-51
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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