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Chaos fosters philanthropy more than crime, Israeli researchers say

How do humans react in the face of chaos? A cynic might tell you that they give in to their baser instincts, defaulting to looting and crime. That is the scenario often portrayed in apocalypse and disaster movies. However, a new study by Israeli researchers says otherwise.

Natural disasters don’t lead to an increase in crime and antisocial behavior. More often than not, such events actually lead to an increase of philanthropy by those near the disaster-stricken area. That’s according to new research from Professor Claude Berrebi, Ariel Karlinsky and Dr. Hanan Yonah, all from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“The team analyzed data of the disasters that took place in the US between 2004 and 2015, a period which saw over 10,000 individual disasters of differing scope and killed over 8,300 people, causing damage in excess of 100 billion dollars,“ the school said in a statement.

The researchers hope that their findings will be considered by civic leaders when crafting disaster response plans.

“These findings have important implications for policy makers and others who are in charge of disaster response and crisis management,” Berrebi said. “[The increase in philanthropy] is particularly important as we recognize that often official channels and governments can be slower in their responses, and therefore policies that encourage volunteerism and increased civilian support for those directly affected can be of vital assistance in the immediate wake of such events.”

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