Does the Level of Development of a Country Affect the Number of Deaths Caused by Earthquakes? Essay Sample

Does the Level of Development of a Country Affect the Number of Deaths Caused by Earthquakes? Pages Download
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To answer this question I am going to need a set of statistics, from a secondary source as it is not realistically possible for me to gather this information for myself. I need to know where the earthquake happened, the date of the earthquake, the number of deaths caused by the earthquake and the size of the earthquake. It is important to know the size of the earthquake as it is not fair to compare an earthquake of size 7 to one of size 4. I am going to use GNP per capita (Gross National Product) to measure the level of development of a country. I feel that GNP is the best way to measure development for this exercise. GNP gives an easy sum with a wide variation of results and is easy to relate to.

I predict that the number of deaths caused by an earthquake will be strongly affected by the level of development. However I think that other factors will affect this and development is not the only factor in this investigation. The following subheadings will explain more thoroughly what affects the amounts of deaths caused by an earthquake.


MEDC’s (More Economically Developed Countries) have far better medical resources than LEDC’s (Less Economically Developed Countries) and have more money so they can get the emergency services to the scene of an earthquake quicker. The rescue workers also are better trained and have better equipment to treat the injured. LEDC’s often rely on overseas help which takes time while the people may be dying in the wreckage

Emergency Services

In MEDC’s with an earthquake risk, such as Japan and New Zealand, there are well thought out emergency procedures. Practices in schools and places of work mean that people know what to do it the event of a natural disaster. The Government’s and military have special emergency plans to help with the situation. LEDC’s do not really have emergency plans such as these so when an earthquake occurs, the people panic and have no idea what to do.

Building Quality

In San Francisco and Japan where there is risk of an earthquake the buildings are all built to a strict building code which is enforced by law. Many buildings are made out of wood so they are more flexible. In LEDC’s however the buildings are made of hard mud or stone and collapse instantly trapping the people inside. Concrete is also a poor building material as it cracks easily.


MEDC’s recover quicker from a natural disaster, this is because they have the investment and technology needed to return the area as it was before the earthquake. Because LEDC’s often have to rely on aid from overseas, a quick recovery is often impossible for them.

All of the above effects on the deaths caused by an earthquake are affected by the level of development. The effects below are not concerned with level of development

Population Density

Obviously areas of low population density will suffer less from the effects of an earthquake than an area of high population density. LEDC’s and MEDC’s both have areas of low and high population density and so this is not affected by the level of development

Strength of Earthquake

The strength or magnitude of an earthquake is measured on the Richter scale. It is obvious to think that the size of the earthquake affects the amount of deaths


The type of soil which the earthquake hits affects the amount of deaths. Some soil will crack easier than others and some soils will hold the building up better than others.

I obtained my data from a secondary source. It was given to me my teacher and consists of a list of twenty eight different earthquakes. The earthquakes occurred between 1972 and 1995. The location, size and number of deaths are given. The level of development of the country is not given so I am going to measure development using GNP because I feel it is the best measure for this task. If an earthquake has occurred twice in the same country I will take the statistics from the most recent earthquake. I am going to miss out any earthquakes where there is more than one death toll, (an official estimate and unofficial estimate.)

The above Scatter Graph gave no correlation. I am going to use

Life Expectancy as a different measure of development. Hopefully by using life Expectancy I will get a better correlation.

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