What is social vulnerability?

Before Class

Please read the following papers, which look at the relationship between the concept of social vulnerability - as measured by the increasingly popular social vulnerability index (SVI) and two different health-related outcomes at the level of U.S. counties: mobility during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cardiovascular mortality.


Fletcher KM, Espey J, Grossman MK, et al. Social vulnerability and county stay-at-home behavior during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, United States, April 7–April 20, 2020. Annals of Epidemiology. 2021;64:76-82. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2021.08.020

Khan SU, Javed Z, Lone AN, et al. Social Vulnerability and Premature Cardiovascular Mortality Among US Counties, 2014 to 2018. Circulation. 2021;144(16):1272-1279. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.054516

During Class

We will discuss the origins of the SVI and identify strengths of the approach as well as potential shortcomings. We will compare the SVI to other summary measures - such as indices of residential segregation - and try to discern the different types of information each one may give us.