Gender, Household Decision-Making, and Hurricane Preparedness

Open Access
Hung, Li San
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 12, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Brenton Yarnal, Dissertation Advisor
  • Brenton Yarnal, Committee Chair
  • Karl Stephen Zimmerer, Committee Member
  • Christopher Stiles Fowler, Committee Member
  • Leif Jensen, Outside Member
  • hurricane
  • preparedness
  • gender
  • intra-household dynamics
  • household decision making
  • natural hazards
  • Sarasota
Research on household natural hazard preparedness has been a focus not only of hazard geographers, but also of psychologists, emergency managers, and public health providers. Although studies so far provide a fundamental understanding of individual-level hazard preparedness, most of them overlook that, in many cases, hazard preparedness is a household-level decision-making activity involving interactions between household members (or intra-household dynamics), especially members with different gender. This dissertation thus aims at uncovering how intra-household dynamics and gender dynamics affect household natural hazard preparedness. It applies a mixed-method approach with dyadic design, using household hurricane preparedness as a case study and targeting married, heterosexual couples of Sarasota County, FL. This study quantitatively probes how intra-household variables and other dyadic variables influence household hurricane preparedness, investigates how the preparedness intentions between couples possibly affects household hurricane preparedness, and attempts to understand if the head of household or person with more financial resources between the dyad makes decisions on household hurricane preparedness. It also qualitatively explores the process of decision-making regarding household hurricane preparedness and how divisions of household labor may affect preparedness. An online survey, in which both husbands and wives responded together and independently, is first conducted, followed by semi-structured interviews with couples. Results suggest that intra-household and gender dynamics influence decision-making on household hurricane preparedness. Most couples indicate that household hurricane preparedness is a joint decision-making process. Approaches to searching for and evaluating hurricane information and levels of preparedness vary with intra-household traits, such as gender role and conflict-resolution strategies. In addition, differences in preparedness intentions between husbands and wives suggest that wives are more likely to take more passive roles in preparing for hurricanes than their husbands do, and gendered division of labor affects how important the couples think preparedness activities are. Overall, the results of this study, with its new approach and innovative research design, provides both researchers and practitioners with insights into household natural hazard preparedness.