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Urban-Rural Differences in Disaster Resilience


The concept of disaster resilience has gained attention in political spheres and news outlets over the past few years, yet relatively few empirical measures of the concept exist. Furthermore, research into urban resilience has dwarfed our understanding of disaster resilience in rural places. This schism in what is known about the differences between urban and rural places becomes the topic of this article. Employing a suite of spatial and statistical techniques using an established measure of community resilience, the Baseline Resilience Indicators for Communities (BRIC), we focus on two key questions to better explain the resilience divide between urban and rural areas of the United States. Nonparametric rank analysis, analysis of variance, and logistic regression help describe the relationships between rurality and disaster resilience in contrast to resilience in urban areas. Pinpointing the driving factors, or characteristics, of resilience in rural America compared to metropolitan America, accomplished through binary logistic regression, revealed notable distinctions. Resilience in urban areas is primarily driven by economic capital, whereas community capital is the most important driver of disaster resilience in rural areas. Within rural areas there is considerable spatial variability in the components of disaster resilience. This suggests that attempts to enhance resilience cannot be approached using a one-size-fits-most strategy given the variability in the primary drivers of disaster resilience at county scales.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Cutter, Susan, Kevin Ash, and Christopher Emrich. 2016. "Urban-Rural Differences in Disaster Resilience." Annals of the American Association of Geographers (July): 1-17. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/24694452.2016.1194740

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