Calvo ‘Happiness Study’ Demonstrates Global Reach

Assistant Professor Rocio Calvo, Director of the Latino Leadership Initiative

Assistant Professor Rocio Calvo, Director of the Latino Leadership Initiative

Over the past couple of weeks, major publications from three different continents have highlighted the research of BCSSW Assistant Professor Rocio Calvo and her work on the Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) Project, an initiative led by noted Harvard sociologist Mary Waters.

Calvo was first author on a study that emerged from RISK investigating “pre- to post- disaster changes in happiness in 491 women affected by Hurricane Katrina.” Calvo and colleagues found that, for the majority of these women from vulnerable populations, there were “no significant differences in happiness between the pre-disaster and four years post-disaster assessments.” Simply put, in the words of Fast Company reporter Jessica Leber, “the results are uplifting.”

The uniquely optimistic results center around a natural disaster that has left a profound, lasting effect on the United States, and provide a fascinating proof point to the power of human resilience. “”I think individuals are more resilient than they are given credit for,” Calvo told Fast Company, one of the leading American business and innovation magazines. Writes reporter Leber:

Calvo, who also studies happiness in Latino immigrant communities, believes the study underlines the importance of supporting the community fabric in vulnerable populations. Social workers, she says, can’t just come in and dictate how communities should use resources, even if they mean to help. ‘Communities might be poor and vulnerable, but they may know better than you what works,’ she says.

El Mercurio, a major national daily in Chile, highlighted Calvo's research.

El Mercurio, a major national daily in Chile, highlighted Calvo’s research.

In addition to inspiring a significant ripple in the States, Calvo’s research has made waves in Spain and Latin America. El Pais, the paper with the largest circulation in Spain, and El Mercurio, a national daily in Chile, have both covered this particular study. It makes perfect sense for Calvo’s work to be featured in English and in Spanish; she is the director of BC Social Work’s Latino Leadership Initiative, a pioneering program that offers students the opportunity to take their MSW courses in Spanish.

“Estos resultados van en línea con otros estudios que demuestran que una de las claves de la felicidad se encuentra en las relaciones personales y en el apoyo que recibimos de los demás,” Calvo told El Pais regarding her study, which first appeared in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Need a translation for the preceding quote? Why not seek out your favorite LLI cohort member.

But above all, we encourage you to read Happily Ever After? Pre-and-Post Disaster Determinants of Happiness Among Survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Anglophones needn’t worry – the paper’s in English.

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