Aid and charity efforts after a natural disaster play a defining role in the fabric of any society. There are multiple theories that talk about the impact of natural disasters on the philanthropic activities around a community. While some suggest that charitable giving increase immensely in the form of help for affected communities, others talk about how stress and vulnerability may lead to some withdrawing from giving away as much as they would have otherwise. In the case of these opposing theories, what can we say holds true? A study may have the answer.
A research paper published in the Natural Hazards journal primarily suggests that there is a difference in how the affected community reacts as opposed to how any community outside of the affected area would react. In what may be a natural reaction and reinforces several theories, affected communities or individuals reduce their charitable spending. With disasters affecting their lives and putting them in the path of risk, vulnerability, and damage, affected people hold back. This reinforces theories like Stress Theory and Conservation of Resources, both of which loosely suggest that active vulnerability and actual loss of resources may result in stress, owing to which one may not want to give more of what is at risk.
On the other hand, faith-restoring behavior is generally displayed by communities and individuals outside the affected circle. An increase in prosocial behavior, possibly stemming from feelings of empathy and solidarity with the victims. What this also achieves is an overall positive impact.
According to this research, the flow of support offsets the negative social behavior displayed by affected communities, thus achieving an overall positive end result. However, the study also points out that the result may not be consistent and social cohesion may have an important role to play. When studying data from counties in the USA, the researchers found that ‘reduction in prosocial behavior is strongest among counties with a high level of income inequality, low wealth and low religious homogeneity.’
These results also shed a light on the ground reality, which seems to be different from media reports of increased crimes in neighborhoods affected by natural disasters. The study suggests that crime rate is negatively associated with natural disasters in affected communities. While the opposite holds true for communities outside the affected areas, the overall impact remains positive.
I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.