Comparing index-based vulnerability assessments in the Mississippi Delta: Implications of contrasting theories, indicators, and aggregation methodologies

Anderson, Carl, Hagenlocher, Michael, Renaud, Fabrice G., Sebesvari, Zita, Cutter, Susan L. and Emrich, Christopher T., (2019). Comparing index-based vulnerability assessments in the Mississippi Delta: Implications of contrasting theories, indicators, and aggregation methodologies. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, n/a-n/a

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  • Sub-type Journal article
    Author Anderson, Carl
    Hagenlocher, Michael
    Renaud, Fabrice G.
    Sebesvari, Zita
    Cutter, Susan L.
    Emrich, Christopher T.
    Title Comparing index-based vulnerability assessments in the Mississippi Delta: Implications of contrasting theories, indicators, and aggregation methodologies
    Appearing in International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
    Publication Date 2019-03-30
    Place of Publication Amsterdam
    Publisher Elsevier Ltd.
    Start page n/a
    End page n/a
    Language eng
    Abstract There are many index-based approaches for assessing vulnerability to socio-natural hazards with differences in underlying theory, indicator selection and aggregation methodology. Spatially explicit output scores depend on these characteristics and contrasting approaches can therefore lead to very different policy implications. These discrepancies call for more critical reflection on index design and utility, a discussion that has not kept pace with the impetus for vulnerability assessments and respective index creation and application following the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015. Comparing index outputs is an effective approach in this regard. Here, the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI®) and the vulnerability component of the Global Delta Risk Index (GDRI) are applied at census tract level in the Mississippi Delta and visually and quantitatively compared. While the SoVI® is grounded in the hazard/risk research paradigm with primarily socio-economic indicators and an inductive principal component methodology, the GDRI incorporates advancementsfrom sustainability science with ecosystem-based indicators and a modular hierarchical design. Maps, class rank changes, and correlations are used to assess the convergence and divergence of these indexes across the delta. Results show that while very different theoretical frameworks influence scores through indicator selection, methodology of index calculation has an even greater effect on output. Within aggregative methodology, the treatment of inter-indicator correlation is decisive. Implications include the need for an increased focus on index methodology and validation of results, transparency, and critical reflection regarding assessment limitations, as our results imply that contradictory risk reduction policies could be considered depending on the assessment methodology used.
    Keyword Index design
    Comparison
    Sensitivity
    SoVI®
    GDRI
    Social vulnerability indices
    Copyright Holder Elsevier Ltd.
    Copyright Year 2019
    Copyright type All rights reserved
    DOI 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2019.101128
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    Created: Tue, 18 Jun 2019, 17:09:53 JST by Aarti Basnyat on behalf of UNU EHS