Social Indicators Research

, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 391–409 | Cite as

Assessing the Relationship Between Social Vulnerability and Community Resilience to Hazards

  • Kelly Bergstrand
  • Brian MayerEmail author
  • Babette Brumback
  • Yi Zhang


This article contributes to the disaster literature by measuring and connecting two concepts that are highly related but whose relationship is rarely empirically evaluated: social vulnerability and community resilience. To do so, we measure community resilience and social vulnerability in counties across the United States and find a correlation between high levels of vulnerability and low levels of resilience, indicating that the most vulnerable counties also tend to be the least resilient. We also find regional differences in the distribution of community resilience and social vulnerability, with the West being particularly vulnerable while the Southeast is prone to low levels of resilience. By looking at both social vulnerability and community resilience, we are able to map communities’ social risks for harm from threats as well as their capacities for recovering and adapting in the aftermath of hazards. This provides a more complete portrait of the communities that might need the most assistance in emergency planning and response, as well as whether such interventions will need to be tailored toward reducing damage or finding the path to recovery.


Social vulnerability Community resilience Disasters Hazard indicators 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly Bergstrand
    • 1
  • Brian Mayer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Babette Brumback
    • 2
  • Yi Zhang
    • 3
  1. 1.School of SociologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health and Health Professions College of MedicineUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics, Center for Statistical SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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