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The Inverse Response Law: Theory and Relevance to the Aftermath of Disasters

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School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
2
Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
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Department of Public Health, Otago School of Medicine, Wellington 6021, New Zealand
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Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
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School of Health Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
6
Department of Sociology, University of Auckland, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 916; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050916
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 27 April 2018 / Published: 4 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health and Disasters)
The Inverse Care Law is principally concerned with the effect of market forces on health care which create inequities in access to health services through privileging individuals who possess the forms of social capital that are valued within health care settings. The fields of disaster risk reduction need to consider the ways in which inequities, driven by economic and social policy as well as institutional decision-making, create vulnerabilities prior to a disaster, which are then magnified post disaster through entrenched structural differences in access to resources. Drawing on key principles within the Inverse Care Law, the Inverse Response Law refers to the idea that people in lower socio-economic groups are more likely to be impacted and to experience disparities in service provision during the disaster response and recovery phase. In a market model of recovery, vulnerable groups struggle to compete for necessary services creating inequities in adaptive capacity as well as in social and wellbeing outcomes over time. Both the Inverse Care Law and the Inverse Response Law focus on the structural organisation of services at a macro level. In this article, the Inverse Care Law is outlined, its application to medical treatment following disasters considered and an explanation of the Inverse Response Law provided. Case studies from recent disasters, in London, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Mexico City are examined in order to illustrate themes at work relating to the Inverse Response Law. View Full-Text
Keywords: inverse care law; inverse response law; disaster risk reduction; social inequalities inverse care law; inverse response law; disaster risk reduction; social inequalities
MDPI and ACS Style

Phibbs, S.; Kenney, C.; Rivera-Munoz, G.; Huggins, T.J.; Severinsen, C.; Curtis, B. The Inverse Response Law: Theory and Relevance to the Aftermath of Disasters. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 916.

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