Demographics and Experiences as Factors of Earthquake Risk Perceptions

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Disaster Research Center
This paper examines the extent to which social demographic characteristics and past earthquake experience influence judgments about the likelihood of a major earthquake and the risk of specific earthquake outcomes, including serious physical harm, severe economic harm, widespread damage to structures, and widespread community disruption. A mail survey was conducted on a sample of 727 residents of Alaineda County, CA and five logistical regression models were run. Variables that significantly predicted high levels of risk perception varied across the models based on outcome type. Gender, age, race, functional importance of the built environment, and past earthquake experience and damage to place of employment were significant predictors for some, but not all, earthquake outcomes. Only past experience of psychological stress in the household as a result of the Lonia Prieta earthquake was a significant predictor in all outcome models. Significant predictors of high expected likelihood of an earthquake event included gender, and loss of lifelines and past damage at home during the Lorna Prieta earthquake.
Alaineda County, CA, social demographics, Loma Prieta earthquake, mail survey