Destruction from Above: Long-Term Legacies of the Tokyo Air Raids

75 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2019 Last revised: 28 Jan 2022

See all articles by Masataka Harada

Masataka Harada

Fukuoka University - Faculty of Economics

Gaku Ito

Osaka Metropolitan University

Daniel M. Smith

Columbia University

Date Written: January 27, 2022

Abstract

Does war enhance or impede the long-term community-level development of social capital? While mobilization and collective-action efforts might strengthen social ties, extreme destruction can potentially erase these effects. We use historical aerial photographs taken after the indiscriminate firebombing of Tokyo during World War II to measure conditionally independent micro-variation in neighborhood-level damages, and investigate the relationship between the amount of damages sustained and the present-day strength of neighborhood associations, a key indicator of geographically-rooted social capital. Even after decades of population recovery, economic growth, and transformations of the urban space, the most heavily damaged neighborhoods continue to have less-organized neighborhood associations, and also exhibit lower socioeconomic well-being in terms of education, occupation, and residential stability. These findings are consistent with the idea that the social capital of survivors is a crucial ingredient for postwar recovery: when fewer survivors remain, communities can potentially be set on a path of persistent disadvantage.

Keywords: historical persistence, political violence, geographic information systems (GIS), remote-sensing, social capital

JEL Classification: C80, D64, D74, I24, J64, K42, N35, N45

Suggested Citation

Harada, Masataka and Ito, Gaku and Smith, Daniel M., Destruction from Above: Long-Term Legacies of the Tokyo Air Raids (January 27, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3471361 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3471361

Masataka Harada (Contact Author)

Fukuoka University - Faculty of Economics

19-1, Nanakuma 8-Chome
Jonan-ku, Fukuoka, Fukuoka 8140180
Japan

Gaku Ito

Osaka Metropolitan University ( email )

3-3-138 Sugimoto, Sumiyoshi Ward
Osaka, Osaka 558-8585
Japan

Daniel M. Smith

Columbia University ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/danielmarkhamsmith

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