Hurricanes and the Elderly: The Role of Social Networks in Age-Related Disaster Vulnerability

Michelle M. Lueck, Colorado State University

Because of increased health concerns, fewer economic resources, and reduced social capital, elderly individuals are said to be at increased risk of the impacts of a disaster. Social capital resources can be especially important in counteracting vulnerability to disaster impacts by increasing the likelihood of hearing disaster warning information, assisting with preparation and evacuation, and recovering following an event by providing financial or nonfinancial assistance. Based on preliminary analyses of the first two years of a three year panel study of residents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, we analyzed the relation between age and indicators of disaster vulnerability with specific attention to general and disaster-related social capital. Our results point to the understanding that the effect of age on disaster risk and recovery is less about age itself and instead dependent upon the social and economic circumstances that correspond with age.

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Presented in Session 159: Social Networks, Social Capital, and Aging