There is a new “seismic gap” that we—members of the international Earth science and earthquake engineering communities, including members of the Seismological Society of America (SSA) and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)—need to know about: the large and growing gap between the seismic risk of rich countries and that of poor countries. We need to know about it because it threatens rich and poor countries alike, because what is being done about it is not enough, and because we are in a unique position to narrow it.

Urban earthquake risk in poor countries is large and rapidly growing. Fifty...

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