Assessing the Relationship Between Social Vulnerability and Community Resilience to Hazards

Kelly Bergstrand, Brian Mayer, Babette Brumback, Yi Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-409
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Community resilience
  • Disasters
  • Hazard indicators
  • Social vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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