Housing well-being for disaster victims in Japan and India; and lessons for all

The LAI Land Economics Foundation has sponsored foundational research in cooperation with Property Research Trust of London on the topic: ‘Measuring housing wellbeing for disaster victims in Japan and India: A capability approach.’  

458 respondents from three different purpose-built resettlement colonies in Chennai, India were interviewed. In Japan, data from 2011 to 2018 from the Japan Household Panel Survey were employed to examine housing satisfaction along with socio-economic and demographic factors.

Residents in India had experienced flooding between 2004 and 2015; in Japan residents were responding to the triple disasters of nuclear power plant failure, earthquake and Tsunami.

While its research effort was focussed on India and Japan, we are certain that many of the findings and methods can find resonance wherever disaster and poverty impact the availability of housing, whether the impacts have come from flood, earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, slide or human-made disaster.

In the case of Japan, an individual’s satisfaction with housing increases from having an opportunity to own a house (as opposed to renting); having control over one’s physical environment; and being able to insure the house against disasters.

In India, the importance of neighbourhood security and social capital in housing wellbeing for poor and vulnerable communities is underscored. Safety levels in the neighbourhood and access to an informal/social system for childcare are significant contributors to housing wellbeing in resettlement colonies.

Four researchers from three countries produced this insightful work:

  • Piyush Tiwari, Professor in Property, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Jyoti Shukla, Lecturer in Property, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Norifumi Yukutake, Associate Professor, College of Economics, Nihon University, Japan and
  • Anjana Purkayastha, Senior Director, Program Quality, Strategy and Research, World Vision India, Chennai, India.

The research identifies housing wellbeing determinants as a functioning achievement when seen through the lens of Sen’s ‘capability approach’ within the context of Japan and India.

Important questions asked in this research are:

  • What are the determinants of housing wellbeing?
  • How do personal characteristics impact housing wellbeing?
  • What is the influence of disaster vulnerability on housing wellbeing?

The researchers conclude that:

  • relocation should not be detrimental for households when they are looking to secure income opportunities
  • housing should respond to the requirements of households. In this context, it is important that community is involved in the process of designing their living environment.
  • during post-disaster reconstruction, it is necessary to avoid disrupting social systems which are based on trust and care for each other and particularly for children
  • post-disaster reconstruction, should make efforts to ensure social equity and empowerment of women, which will not only have a positive impact on the health of women, but will also improve the overall wellbeing of households
  • mechanisms for protection of assets/houses and income of low-income households through public insurance or other safety nets should be devised
  • it is necessary to resettle households in a way which does not disadvantage them through social stratification or affect their self-identity. This implies that as far as possible reconstruction should be in-situ or, if relocation is necessary, it should not be at a distant location.

A pdf of slides for this presentation can be accessed here:


A link to the Property Research Trust and its September 2022 report summary is provided below.


This research has been further refined and published by Environment and Urbanization Asia in October, 2022 “Post-Disaster Reconstruction, Well-being and Sustainable Development Goals: A Conceptual Framework”. A link to the abstract, which provides an opportunity to purchase the peer-reviewed article is attached below.


The LAI Global Initiatives webinar on this presentation on January 26, 2022 can be found on LAI TV through the following link.


Submitted by Richard Cook, MLAI Vancouver Chapter



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