Research Example #4

Cutter, S. L., Boruff, B. J. and Shirley, W. L. (2003), “Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards*”. Social Science Quarterly, 84: 242-261

This publication lays out the research design and conclusions made by Susan L. Cutter, Bryan J. Boruff, and W. Lynn Shirley that looked to analyze the geography of social vulnerability as it pertains to natural disasters and other environmental hazards. They narrowed factors of social vulnerability across all U.S. counties to 11 independent variables: personal wealth; age; density of built environment; single-sector economic dependence; housing stock and tenancy; race (African American); ethnicity (Hispanic); ethnicity (Native American); race (Asian); Occupation; and infrastructure dependence. By running this data to test for social vulnerability, they found that counties in the lower half of the U.S. were the most vulnerable, stating “stretching from south Florida to California—regions with greater ethnic and racial inequalities as well as rapid population growth.” (255) are at greater risk in the event of natural disaster. The researchers declare, “The factors identified in the statistical analysis are consistent with the broader hazards literature and not only demonstrate the geographic variability in social vulnerability, but also the range in the underlying causes of that vulnerability.” (257). This research aims to drive further research and analysis of factors of social vulnerability as it pertains to preparing for and recovering from natural disasters, and wishes to be used as an index factor for other analyses such as biophysical risk data in order to better help vulnerable counties and communities affected by such hazards. This research is extremely helpful to my cause, as it lays out its own research methodology that seeks to answer social and economic inequalities of disenfranchised and marginalized communities that are put at risk more so than wealthy and homogenous communities whose wealth already serves as an additional layer of protection that many communities lack.



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