Local politicians as linking social capital: an empirical test of political behavior after Japan’s 3/11 disasters

Daniel P. Aldrich*, Yoshikuni Ono

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


After a massive catastrophe, local decision makers have a large number of potential sources of advice and assistance. Yet, we know little about those to whom politicians reach out at the local, regional, and national levels, and what drives the intensity of contact with these targets. Using original survey data drawn from more than 240 council members from cities, towns, and villages in the Tohoku region of Japan, we investigate the factors influencing consultation after the March 11, 2011, compounded disasters. We find strong variation in their outreach to actors, including national-level politicians, governors, prefectural politicians, civil servants, and local constituents. Controlling for a number of compounding factors, such as town size, financial capability, and personal characteristics of the politician, we find that the degree of damage in their own communities robustly influences outreach after crisis. The more damage, the more local politicians reach out to a broader network of potentially useful connections more often. Partisan and independent town council members behave differently; those with party connections (especially those with connections to a governing party) reach out more than those without. Our findings about diversity and intensity of outreach bring important implications for residents, politicians, and non-governmental organizations after disaster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1659
Number of pages23
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • 3/11
  • Disaster
  • Japan
  • Linking social capital
  • Political behavior
  • Vertical ties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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