The American Community Survey and Enhanced Community-Level Social Vulnerability Assessment
Understanding the potential impacts of hazards on the well-being of a population is essential for policy makers in the Department of Homeland Security in order to improve the nation’s preparedness and response to threats. Numerous methods exist to quantify physical and economic vulnerability and to geographically describe the distribution and likelihood of hazard occurrence. A third type of vulnerability, social vulnerability, is the potential for loss or destruction of livelihoods, incomes, community resilience, and coping mechanisms. This research brief examines approaches to social vulnerability, the current literature on the measurement of social vulnerability, and the use of the American Community Survey as a potential source of data for assessing social vulnerability.