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Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Social Vulnerability in the United States from 1970 to 2010: A County Trajectory Analysis

Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Social Vulnerability in the United States from 1970 to 2010: A County Trajectory Analysis
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Author(s): Gainbi Park (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA) and Zengwang Xu (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA)
Copyright: 2020
Volume: 11
Issue: 1
Pages: 19
Source title: International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research (IJAGR)
Editor(s)-in-Chief: Donald Patrick Albert (Sam Houston State University, USA) and Samuel Adu-Prah (Sam Houston State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJAGR.2020010103



Social vulnerability has been an important concept to characterize the extent to which human society is vulnerable to hazards. Although it is well known that social vulnerability varies across space and over time, there is only a paucity of studies to examine the basic patterns of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the social vulnerability in the United States. This study examines the spatial and temporal dynamics of social vulnerability of the U.S. counties from 1970 to 2010. For each decade, social vulnerability of counties is quantified by the social vulnerability index (SoVI) using county-level social, economic, demographic, and built environment characteristics. The SoVI is mainly designed to quantify the cross-sectional variation of social vulnerability and is not conducive to direct comparison over time. This study implements a methodology that integrates quantile standardization, sequence alignment analysis, and cluster analysis to investigate how social vulnerability of U.S. counties has changed over time. The authors find that U.S. counties exhibit distinctive spatial and longitudinal patterns, and there are counties/areas which have persistent high or low social vulnerability as well as frequent change in their social vulnerability over time. The results can be useful for policymakers, disaster managers, planning officials, and social scientists in general.

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