Social Vulnerability Index for the United States - 2006-10
The Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI®) 2006-10 measures the social vulnerability of U.S.
counties to environmental hazards. The index is a comparative metric that facilitates the
examination of the differences in social vulnerability among counties. SoVI® is a valuable
tool for policy makers and practitioners. It graphically illustrates the geographic variation
in social vulnerability. It shows where there is uneven capacity for preparedness and
response and where resources might be used most effectively to reduce the pre-existing
vulnerability. SoVI® also is useful as an indicator in determining the differential
recovery from disasters.
The index synthesizes 29 socioeconomic variables, which the research literature suggests
contribute to reduction in a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover
from hazards. SoVI ® data sources include primarily those from the United States Census Bureau.
The data are compiled and processed by the Hazards and Vulnerability Research
Institute at the University of South Carolina. The data are standardized and placed
into a principal components analysis to reduce the initial set of variables into a
smaller set of statistically optimized components. Adjustments are made to the
components’ cardinality (positive (+) or negative (-)) to insure that positive
component loadings are associated with increased vulnerability, and negative
component loadings are associated with decreased vulnerability. Once the
cardinalities of the components are determined, the components are added
together to determine the numerical social vulnerability score for each county.
SoVI® 2006-10 marks a change in the formulation of the SoVI® metric from earlier versions.
New directions in the theory and practice of vulnerability science emphasize the constraints
of family structure, language barriers, vehicle availability, medical disabilities, and
healthcare access in the preparation for and response to disasters, thus necessitating the
inclusion of such factors in SoVI®. Extensive testing of earlier conceptualizations of
SoVI®, in addition to the introduction of the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year American
Community Survey (ACS) estimates, warrants changes to the SoVI® recipe, resulting in a more
robust metric. These changes, pioneered with the ACS-based SoVI® 2005-09 carry over to
SoVI® 2006-10, which combines the best data available from both the 2010 U.S. Decennial
Census and five-year estimates from the 2006-2010 ACS.
In SoVI® 2006-10, seven significant components explain 72% of the variance
in the data. These components include
race and class;
special needs individuals;
Native American ethnicity;
and service industry employment. Detailed information on these components can be found here in PDF format.
To visually compare the SoVI® scores at a national level, they are mapped
using quantiles. Scores in the top 20% of the United States are more vulnerable
counties (red) and scores in the bottom 20% of the United States indicate the least
vulnerable counties (blue).
For more details on the evolution of SoVI®, please look here.
A dicussion regarding error correction method for our ACS products is here.
Information on previous SoVI® formulations using the 2000 Census can be found using the menu above.