Natural Hazards

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 1341–1355 | Cite as

Social vulnerability assessment for mitigation of local earthquake risk in Los Angeles County

Original Paper


Comprehensive hazard mitigation involves (1) understanding natural systems, (2) assessment of interactions within and between social systems and the built environment, and (3) understanding geo-spatial processes. To achieve this, local emergency managers must recognize variability in vulnerable populations exposed to hazards and develop place-based emergency plans accordingly. In this study, we assess whether cities in Los Angeles County are subject to disproportionally greater earthquake losses modeled from a M7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas fault. Furthermore, we analyze whether the variation in demographic and socioeconomic characteristics across cities is associated with the earthquake losses. We were able to explain 23.2 % of variance in economic losses by looking at the percentage of minority residents, income, and renter residents in a city [F(3,84) = 8.47; p < .001]. Cities with primarily minority residents had greater economic losses when compared to cities with primarily White residents (b = 1.01; p < .001). When looking at the association between demographic predictors and potential casualty rate, the percentage of Hispanic residents was positively associated with the potential casualty rate. We argue that knowledge of the relationship between earthquake hazard and the demographic characteristics of people in the area at risk is essential to mitigate the local impact from earthquakes. In other words, we apply social vulnerability assessment as part of a comprehensive risk management framework to accelerate recovery after an event. Local policy makers and the private sector can use this approach to gain a better understanding of a city’s social vulnerability and adapt their preparedness efforts accordingly.


Social vulnerability Earthquake risk HAZUS Emergency management Hazard mitigation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Analysis and Design, School of Social EcologyUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA
  2. 2.California Institute for Hazards ResearchIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Program in Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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