Did corruption raise Haiti's death toll?
来源：未知 作者：却刃澳 时间：2019-03-01 01:09:06
By Peter Aldhous Corruption kills. That’s the message from a controversial analysis of fatalities from building collapse in earthquakes, published on the first anniversary of Haiti’s devastating quake. It is well known that quake death tolls are not primarily determined by the violence of the Earth’s movement, but by urban population density and the quality of building construction. This explains why Haiti suffered so badly in January 2010, while the much more powerful earthquake that hit Chile the following month caused just 562 deaths. Now Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Nicholas Ambraseys of Imperial College London have concluded that the problem is not just poverty, but corruption. This, they argue, allows developers to disregard building codes. Using the Corruption Perceptions Index maintained by Transparency International, based in Berlin, Germany, the researchers recorded the extent to which each of 148 countries was more or less corrupt than anticipated, given its wealth. They found that 83 per cent of the deaths from building collapse in earthquakes over the past three decades occurred in countries with anomalously high scores for corruption. “It’s a smoking gun,” says Bilham. However, John Mutter, a geophysicist at Columbia University in New York, points out that it is difficult to produce meaningful estimates of wealth or corruption in poor countries, where a high proportion of business activity occurs outside of the formal economy. He remains unconvinced that corruption is as important as Bilham and Ambraseys suggest. “The stronger predictor, most analyses will show, is poverty,” Mutter says. Brian Tucker, president of Geohazards International in Palo Alto, California, which works to promote safe yet affordable building practices in developing countries, fears that the study’s focus on corruption may deter donors from investing in such efforts. Tucker applauds the researchers’ attempt to bring statistical rigour to the study of earthquake fatalities, but he suggests that the analysis misses a crucial factor – the value of education to counter the fatalism about earthquakes that is often pervasive in poor countries. “Inform people and they’ll be motivated,” Tucker argues. Journal reference: Nature (vol 469, p 153) More on these topics: