May, 2020

Ex-Post Coping Responses and Post-Disaster Resilience

A Case from the 2015 Nepal Earthquake
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Using primary data gathered from a field survey in Sindhupalchowk, Nepal following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015, this paper investigates the role that households’ ex-post coping responses play in their economic and psychosocial recovery after disasters. For empirical estimation, we use a full-information multi-equation system and allow for contemporaneous correlation across equations to account for the processes that influence households’ responses. We find that financial access and labor adjustment opportunities increase the likelihood of higher economic resilience. On the other hand, while the adoption of financial coping strategies contributes to higher psychosocial resilience, we find that labor adjustment choices may disrupt family and social dynamics, thereby decreasing psychosocial resilience. Based on these findings, we argue that top-down post-disaster policy approaches face challenges in identifying tradeoffs across different aspects of wellbeing. Our findings underscore the importance of mobilizing local institutions and expanding market and non-market alternatives for post-disaster recovery.