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After a California Earthquake

Attitude and Behavior Change

Shortly before the Loma Prieta earthquake devastated areas of Northern California in 1989, Risa Palm and her associates had surveyed 2,500 homeowners in the area about their perception of risk from earthquakes. After the quake they surveyed the homeowners again and found that their perception of risk had increased but that most respondents were fatalistic and continued to ignore self-protective measures; those who personally experienced damage were more likely to buy insurance. A rare opportunity to analyze behavior change directly before and after a natural disaster, this survey has implications for policy makers, insurance officials, and those concerned with risk management.

145 pages | 17 figures, 36 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1992

University of Chicago Geography Research Papers

Geography: Social and Political Geography

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
1. Earthquake Hazards and Preparedness
Economic Exposures to Earthquake Risk
Mitigation Measures
The Adoption of Precautions
Judgment and Risk Behavior
2. Earthquake Insurance
The Nature and History of Earthquake Insurance
Earthquake Insurance Purchase Decision
3. Property in California
Nature of Residential Property
Property Values
4. Results of the Pre-Loma Prieta Study
Summary of Findings
Unanswered Questions
5. Insurance Purchase and Risk
Expected Purchase Patterns
Research Hypotheses
6. Study Design
The Loma Prieta Earthquake
Research Questions
Study Design
The Advisory Committee
Resurvey of Households
7. After the Earthquake: Changes in Attitudes and Behavior
General Patterns
Experience with the Loma Prieta Earthquake
Other Mitigation Activities
Reasons for Not Purchasing Insurance
Attitudes toward Future Earthquakes
8. Changes and Stability in Attitudes and Behavior: The Individual
Behavior and Attitude Change
Behavior and Attitude Stability: 1989 to 1990
9. Locational Analysis
Geographic Knowledge
Damage Experience and Geographic Knowledge
Insurance Adoption and Geographic Location
10. The Effects of Experience: Implications for Policy and Further Investigation
Earthquake Experience and Changes in Attitudes and Behavior
Implications for Policy
Implications of 1990 California Insurance Legislation
A Final Word
Appendix: Sample Questionnaire for Santa Clara County

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