Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, CARMA 2018 - 2nd International Conference on Advanced Research Methods and Analytics

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Do People Pay More Attention to Earthquakes in Western Countries?
Hanna Habibi, Jan Feld

Last modified: 11-07-2018


This paper investigates whether people from Western countries pay more attention to earthquakes in Western countries than those in non-Western countries. Using Google Trends data, we examine the proportion of Google searches from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand for 610 earthquakes across the world over the period of 2006-2016. Our results suggest that people in these countries pay around 44 percent more attention to earthquakes in Western countries, holding constant earthquake magnitude and number of casualties. Our results remain significant and similar in magnitude after controlling for geographical and social characteristics, but reduce in magnitude to almost zero and become insignificant after controlling for GDP per capita of the countries where the earthquake struck. Our results suggest that there is a developed country bias, rather than a Western country bias, in people’s attention. This bias might lead to a lower flow of international relief to economically less developed countries, which are less able to deal with disasters.

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