|Title||The use of social surveys to measure drought and the impact of drought|
|Year of Publication||2011|
|Keywords||Measuring drought, Social surveys, socioeconomic impact|
Although the term drought is widely used, defining it is conceptually and technically difficult and there is no generally accepted definition. This article uses data from an Australian social survey of people living in agricultural areas to test the validity of using general social surveys to ask respondents whether they are living in an area that is drought affected. Strong evidence is found that the survey based self-report measure of drought is both internally consistent and correlated with the standard Australia meteorological (rainfall deficit) measures of drought and thus provides a valid measure of whether individuals are experiencing the drought. The relationship between self-report drought and the standard meteorological measure of drought and financial hardship and changes in financial position is estimated. While a negative association between drought and financial position is found for both measures, the relationship is stronger for the self-report than the meteorological definition. The self-report measure is more closely linked to the economic, social and community impacts of low rainfall and provides greater flexibility in the geographic area over which drought is measured—thus survey data about drought allows respondents to define the area in way which is meteorologically, topographically or agriculturally meaningful.