"Pay it forward": extending a post-disaster altruistic support in Japan

Authors: Hiroaki Daimon*, University of Delaware, Tomohide Atsumi, Osaka University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Asia, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Disaster, volunteerism, "pay it forward"
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research reports on the altruistic response (i.e., volunteering, donation) to the victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (henceforth, the 2011 Tohoku EQ), especially focusing on the possibilities of extending "pay it forward" volunteerism following a disaster. Since its emergence following the 1995 Kobe Earthquake in Japan, volunteerism has expanded greatly; and recently they created a chain of support among survivors, called the “pay it forward” network. Following the 2011 Tohoku EQ, for example, 2004 Chuetsu EQ survivors-turned-volunteers helped the people in Noda village, which suffered severe impacts from the 2011 Tohoku EQ and Tsunami. Those who were survivors in Chuetsu were also helped by the survivors of the 1995 Kobe EQ.
This poster summarizes two important features of volunteerism in Japan at this time. First, a comparison is made between those who have been helped by others and those who have not. A multi-level analysis, using survey data (N=1679), compares that being helped is more likely to increase the ratio of all altruistic behaviors. Second, the value of the “pay it forward” concept is clarified. It was found that people who were helped by others in disasters (i.e., prior to the 2011 Tohoku EQ) were positively affected. In contrast, those who had experienced a disaster without being helped by others, were less likely to assist victims of this disaster. On the whole, “pay it forward” accelerates the psychological debt one experiences by "being helped" in the past and motivates them to assist current disaster victims.

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