Addressing data, natural disasters, and effects on older adults

July 20, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] – The recent semi-annual meeting of the Committee on Population (CPOP) included a presentation by PSTC Faculty Associate Elizabeth Fussell. The meeting, which took place at the end of the June, focused on the topic, "Leveraging existing data for the study of consequences of disasters for older adults."

Fussell's presentation examined national panel surveys, seeking to determine their utility for analyzing environmental disasters and their consequences for older adults in the United States. She concluded that evaluating the impacts of a large scale event on members of panel surveys will produce knowledge about the effects of catastrophic events on urban populations, but this knowledge may not be generalizable to all events or populations. Instead, panel data combined with aggregated disaster events and losses will produce unbiased knowledge of the effects of disasters. She also discussed the potential for constructing longitudinal data sets by linking large federal surveys/censuses and disaster event data. 

“Demographers need to focus more closely on population and environment interactions, like how extreme weather events affect human settlements," Fussell said following the meeting. "The intergovernmental panel on climate change is now paying attention to these issues, and our field is poised to contribute to science on climate change impacts.”

The Committee on Population is part of the National Academy of Sciences. Its mission is to bring the knowledge and methods of the population sciences to bear on major issues of science and public policy. CPOP seeks to contribute to the advancement of population studies and to the informed development of population-related policies.