2011 January 12 Wednesday
Most Earthquake Deaths In Corrupt Countries

Using international corruption rating data from Transparency International a group of researchers find that the vast majority of earthquake deaths occur in the most corrupt nations.

A new assessment of global earthquake fatalities over the past three decades indicates that 83 percent of all deaths caused by the collapse of buildings during earthquakes occurred in countries considered to be unusually corrupt.

Authored by Professor Nicholas Ambraseys of the Imperial College of London and Professor Roger Bilham of the University Colorado at Boulder, the study also found that in some relatively wealthy countries where knowledge and sound business practices would be expected to prevail, the collapse of many buildings is nevertheless attributable to corrupt building practices.

Corruption and wealth are highly negatively correlated. So one might attribute the low standards for construction as resulting from lack of resources to build strong buildings.

The authors determined that there is roughly a one-to-one relationship between a nations' wealth and its perceived level of corruption. "Less wealthy nations are the most corrupt," said Bilham, also a fellow in the CU-Boulder based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. "We found that fully 83 percent of all deaths from earthquakes in the last 30 years have occurred in nations where corruption is both widespread and worse than expected."

But more corrupt yet relatively more wealthy countries (e.g. nations that have lots of oil) have higher levels of death from earthquakes. So the corruption appears decisive.

"Corruption is found to be far worse in some countries than others, despite a measure of wealth that tells us they should do better," said Bilham. "It is in the countries that have abnormally high levels of corruption where we find most of the world's deaths from earthquakes."

A country's immigration policy should be designed to build up a populace that is averse to corruption and likely to oppose it. Since Finland is the least corrupt country in the world Finns should be most welcome.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 January 12 11:23 PM  Culture Compared

Jerry Martinson said at January 13, 2011 12:39 AM:

I've commented on this before but I think the media coverage of earthquakes in the US has given us the mistaken impression that the only exceptionally old or poorly built buildings in California will collapse in a major seismic event.

A lot of workers in California work in tilt-up buildings which are popular throughout the bay area and I believe that it is very difficult to make this sort of construction as safe as other types construction. Specifically they are prone to catastrophic collapse and will kill or seriously injure nearly everyone inside. This applies to both new and old buildings. The "safety" factors and loading calculations engineers used (and use) to design and retrofit tilt-up buildings do not appear to have been derived from a solid physical understanding of their seismic performance or empirical data from earthquakes. Instead they seem to be centered around justifying the "status quo" of building tilt-ups with a few band-aids based on what broke the last time. This is in contrast to most other types of buildings. Each successive major earthquake that produces strong ground motion on the west coast not only damages tilt-ups that were not retrofitted but also has shown also that tilt-ups that were built and retrofitted to the latest codes are not substantially more resistant to strong ground motion than the ones that weren't. Each band-aid applied from "lessons learned" has only shown that the next weakest link in the chain isn't really stronger. If anyone knowledgeable about the derivation of tilt-up structural engineering practices can add an intelligent comment, I'd like to hear it. I hope I can be proven mistaken.

Also in California landlords and companies are not required to carry sufficient liability coverage resulting from personal injury and death from earthquakes in structurally deficient buildings. I think should coverage should be mandatory for an occupancy permit. This has reduced the financial incentive for better investment in retrofits, better design techniques, and better actuarial analysis of risky structures. Another pervasive building structure, "Ding Bat" apartments, is also prone to collapse that will kill occupants and is rarely retrofitted because there is little economic incentive to do so.

So I'm basically saying California has substantially under-invested in earthquake mitigation and every time there's an earthquake in Turkey/China or wherever the media compares the magnitude with 1989's Loma Prieta earthquake. The implied story in the comparison is that somehow these other countries death toll is due to shoddy construction. While party true I think this is misleading- we have our own shoddy construction issues. Loma Prieta didn't produce strong ground motion in urban areas anywhere near what the Hayward fault is likely to do. I think we're in for a rude surprise.

which happened very far from urban areas and mentions that the difference in damages is largely due to

Mthson said at January 13, 2011 3:49 AM:

As a thought experiment, I recently suggested to a liberal that we increase total immigration, which liberals like, but we give those immigration slots to the people who 1. need it most, and 2. have the highest test scores (because a good society is good).

It would be like a devil's bargain with liberals... we would still have more immigration than would be rationally optimum, but we wouldn't end up with endless masses of low-score, high-crime NAMs (non-Asian minorities) who resent Whites' and Asians' ease in creating complex information-age societies.

That would mean immigration from countries like China, Vietnam, and India. Mexico, in contrast, is among the wealthiest nations in the world, with a 600% higher GDP per capita (PPP) than Vietnam (source: international monetary fund).

Big bill said at January 13, 2011 4:58 AM:

Wasn't it Hammurabi's Code that dictated the punishment for builders whose houses collapsed? I believe the punishment was to be crushed under a pile of stones.

no i don't said at January 16, 2011 9:45 AM:

"Corruption and wealth are highly negatively correlated. So one might attribute the low standards for construction as resulting from lack of resources to build strong buildings."

You mean like the WTC Towers that collapsed because a plane sank(!) into each one of them?? Wings, tail and all?? Cutting through steal beams?? Talk about corruption!

You mean like the WTC Building 7 that collapsed because... because... because of nothing?? No plane crash, no fire, no earthquake. You go ahead and talk about corruption...

I mean, it's true, lots of people in corrupt countries die when buildings collapse in earthquakes, but in the U.S. lots of people die when buildings collapse without earthquakes (!?)

Of course the world still remembers that Spanish skyscraper hotel that was consumed by a fire -bottom to top all the way- and its intact structure was still standing long after it cooled. In fact it had to be demolished. It's all over youtube, in case you'd want to check it out.

High number of deaths in an earthquake might also have to do -God forbbid- with population density. So a big earthquake in say New York would certainly lay some big question marks on this article... Wouldn't it?

Hope it doesn't happen though, one because I love N.Y., but mainly because people trapped into collapsed buildings -dead or alive- is not a nice sight anywhere in the world. I therefore take this opportunity to remember and pay my deepest respects to all the victims -and relatives- at the 9-11 collapses.

Jerry Martinson said at January 18, 2011 7:38 PM:

I thought WTC#7 had huge damage to one side and there were diesel generator UPS equipment at the lower level that was essentially pumping a steady stream diesel into a fire that eventually weakened the steel. Since the building was already screwed up really bad, in danger of eminent collapse, and everyone was evacuated, the NY fire dept and the owners agreed to not fight the fire and pull all the fire personnel out of the building.

The 9/11 truther idiots never show the bad side of the building.... you couldn't get on that side of the building very easily because that side of WTC#7 was a total mess from the other 2 fallen buildings.

no i don't said at January 19, 2011 5:19 PM:

Really? Are you for real Jerry? You show me that fire.

It's amazing how many idiots with initiative know so little about the laws of physics. Even if planes wigns were as sharp as katana swords and the metal in the wings were solid steal, and the plane were flying at 1000 mph, no plane wing or tail can cut through a steal and concrete building as if it were made of butter. (Unless of course it had been previously cut) The manner in which the WTC Towers were built was enough to take several plane hits each. The construction videos are all over the web for anybody to look at.

Of course, there have been many other buildings in history being hit by planes. There have been buildings that burnt whole for 20 hours, and stand. Before historical facts and laws of physics, no arguments stand.

Here's a real fire Jerry. Please, just look at the video, will ya?


no i don't said at January 19, 2011 5:23 PM:

Science is about finding evidences; doing a lot of testing; double and triple cheking and seeing where all that leads you, regardless of how much we like the new discovery.

Having a given answer and then finding arguments and explainations to support it is called dogma, and it is common in religion and politics.

suomynona said at May 3, 2012 3:27 AM:

Right. I Disagree with you noobs.

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