Resilience has become an important topic in many social sciences. Numerous individual choices and economic and demographic outcomes are likely to be influenced by people's resilience. School performance, work absenteeism and burnout, longevity, the quality of sleep and health-risk behaviors such as substance abuse are some examples. Similarly, it is of high policy relevance to understand the determinants of both individual resilience (such as educational, marital and occupational status) and ecological resilience (such as climate change). Empirical work designed to uncover such relationships suffers from the absence of a resilience measure applicable in the context of large data sets. We fill this gap by proposing a specific measure that is characterized by a set of natural properties. After an introduction to the notion of resilience and its attributes, we argue why these conditions have intuitive appeal. Finally, we provide illustrating examples and derive our main characterization result.
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