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Leader Survival and Natural Disasters

Abstract

Analyses of the occurrence of natural disasters show that in large coalition systems, such as democracies, their occurrence has little effect on protest or leader survival. However, if large numbers of people die in these disasters, more protests occur and leader survival diminishes. In contrast, for leaders in small coalition systems, the occurrence of disasters increases protests and reduces tenure, but the level of fatalities has little effect. The anticipation of these potential political effects accounts for why many more people die in disasters in small coalition systems than in large coalition systems.

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Department of Government, University of Essex; Department of Politics, New York University (email: alastair.smith@nyu.edu). An online appendix with replication data, estimation routines and appendices is available at http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=JPS.

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44 In our ideal specification, we would like to use population density for each disaster. Since we explore all types of disasters by country-year, we have not found the general equivalent of an earthquake's epicenter; national population density is not a feasible alternative because there is high variance in population density within countries. However, our ongoing study of the effects of earthquakes addresses this issue.

45 In order to control for a potential reporting bias, we performed the same analysis when there was at least one fatal disaster. The results are essentially the same. It is important to note that most empirical analyses of disasters use a linear model to explore disaster-related casualties. Nevertheless, to address potential concerns about the distribution of casualties, we estimated the same specifications using count models; our analyses using these models also produce similar results.

46 The regions are given by the Correlates of War Project: Western Hemisphere, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Oceania.

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Escaleras, Anbarci and Register, ‘Public Sector Corruption and Major Earthquakes’, pp. 209–230

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* Department of Government, University of Essex; Department of Politics, New York University (email: ). An online appendix with replication data, estimation routines and appendices is available at http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=JPS.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
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