Assessing the risk of pre-existing grievances in non-democracies: The conditional effect of natural disasters on repression

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Pfaff, Katharina (2019) Assessing the risk of pre-existing grievances in non-democracies: The conditional effect of natural disasters on repression, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.

Every disaster carries the risk of destruction but not every disaster prompts violent political process in a country. This article examines the popular argument that natural disasters can lead to higher state violence if resulting shocks caused by a disaster add to pre-existing grievances. If economic inequality or political instability is prevalent before a disaster occurs, disasters are expected to exacerbate the perceived threat to government's survival in office. Consequently, repression is expected to be higher in the aftermath of a disaster. I test the existence of the expected conditional effect of pre-disaster stability and disasters using cross-national data on natural rapid-onset disasters in non-democracies between 1976 and 2013. As indicators for pre-existing grievances this article focuses on ex ante economic inequality and political dissent. While a natural disaster as such is not associated with a violation of human rights, empirical evidence suggests that the probability of an increase in post-disaster repression is higher when a country has previously experienced grievances.

Read the article here (Open Access)

Authors

Katharina Pfaff

Katharina Pfaff

Visiting Researcher