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

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232 Citations (Scopus)
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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 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
Number of pages20
JournalWorld Development
Early online date4 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Disaster preparedness
  • Disaster resilience
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Southeast Asia

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