The Effects of Housing Reconstruction on Post-Disaster Psychosocial Health

Maria Laurito , Duke University
Elizabeth Frankenberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cecep Sumantri, SurveyMETER
Duncan Thomas, Duke University

In this paper we study the effects of reconstruction of housing on post-traumatic stress reactivity (PTSR) after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, one of the largest natural disasters on record. Using data from the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery (STAR), a population representative panel (six waves spanning ten years) of tsunami survivors, first, we show post-tsunami reconstruction was largely determined by the level of damage, regardless of pre-tsunami characteristics of households and individuals. Based on this finding, we identify the causal effects of housing reconstruction on PTSR using individual fixed effects. We show that at the individual level, receipt of a house causes significant reductions in PTSR. These effects are mainly concentrated within two years of receiving the asset and among beneficiaries from highly damaged communities. These results provide important causal evidence of how reconstruction after a disaster can have long-lasting, positive consequences on the recovery of survivors.

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 Presented in Session 216. Health Effects of Social Welfare Policies