The Great East Japan Earthquake of 11 March 2011 poses challenges as to how private philanthropy and civil society can contribute to the reconstruction of the disaster area and the renewal of our society. Exploring the impact of a natural catastrophe on individuals’ pro-social attitudes provides an opportunity to study how preferences, trust, reciprocity and social norms interact to determine people’s readiness to give in times of crisis.
I will discuss the factors that have a bearing on giving and volunteering, paying particular attention to the influence of social capital on the pro-social behavioral capacity of individuals. Pro-social behavior is a civic virtue that finds expression in acts of philanthropy by individuals and communities that thereby demonstrate their awareness of economic and social issues and institutions. In this sense, giving and volunteering can be viewed as indices measuring the extent of civic engagement, and preferences as parameters to explain individual pro-sociality.
Naoto Yamauchi is professor of public economics at Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP), Osaka University. He has been studying and teaching about public and civil society issues there since 1994. He received B.A. from Osaka University, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and Ph.D. from Osaka University. He is a founding member and currently President of JANPORA, Japan NPO Research Association, and is editor-in-chief of JANPORA’s journal, “Nonprofit Review”.