Assessing the Relationship between Social Vulnerability, Social Capital, and Housing Resilience

Academic Article


  • Social vulnerability and social capital have been shown to influence how severely communities are impacted by natural hazards and how quickly they recover. Indices exist to quantify these factors using publicly available data; however, more empirical research is needed to validate these indices and support their use in pre-disaster planning and decision making. Using data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and data gathered through imagery analysis in Google Earth, this study evaluates the effectiveness of two indices of social vulnerability and social capital to predict housing impacts and rates of recovery in Florida and Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. We found the social vulnerability index to be statistically significant in explaining the variation of housing impacts in both case studies, with varying results for the sub-indices of social vulnerability. Results for the social capital index were mixed between the case studies, and we found no statistically significant relationship between any of the indices and rates of housing recovery. Our results show that indices such as these can be useful, with an awareness of limitations, for researchers and emergency practitioners, and additional empirical analysis is needed to more fully support their efficacy for resilience assessment.
  • Authors

  • Rowan, Sebastian
  • Kwiatkowski, Kyle
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • September 2020
  • Published In

  • Sustainability  Journal
  • Keywords

  • disaster
  • housing
  • index
  • recovery
  • resilience
  • social capital
  • social vulnerability
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 7718
  • End Page

  • 7718
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 18