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Essays on resilience measurement

Jones, Lindsey (2020) Essays on resilience measurement. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Robust measurement is key to the design and targeting of resilience-building interventions. Yet, conventional approaches to resilience measurement are often ill-suited to the needs of development and humanitarian stakeholders, proving costly, timeconsuming and difficult to coordinate. In this thesis I explore the use, validity and viability of an alternative suite of approaches: subjective measures of resilience. I start by clarifying the conceptual distinctions between subjectivity and objectivity as they relate to resilience measurement, before introducing a continuum that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of different types of approaches. I then develop a new perception-based measure, coined the Subjectively self-Evaluated Resilience Score (SERS). Using a large household survey in Northern Uganda, I provide like-for-like comparisons between SERS and a conventional objective approach to resilience measurement. While I show that the two measures are moderately correlated, they differ notably in associations with key socio-economic traits. In order to further probe the validity of subjective measures, I examine whether SERS is sensitive to external shocks. Using mobile phones to conduct remote interviews I assemble a novel high-frequency panel survey on resilience. Here I reveal how perceived levels of resilience fluctuate in the aftermath of seasonal flooding in Eastern Myanmar: dropping sharply in the first few months, before slowly converging over the course of a year. I also compare the impact of flood exposure across different socio-economic groups, revealing how female-headed households are hardest hit. Lastly, using the same site in Myanmar, I look more closely at the temporal dynamics of resilience. Insights from an extended panel provide quantitative evidence of intra-annual variation in levels of resilience. Here I find consistent non-linear associations between subjectively-evaluated scores and changes in seasonality and weather. Findings also point to potential resilience thresholds and tipping points. Weighed together, these results: challenge core assumptions in the resilience literature; highlight the potential of subjective measures; and point to the need for greater diversity of resilience evidence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Lindsey Jones
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Conway, Declan

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