November 19, 2008
This paper develops an empirical method to measure the vulnerability of various population groups during a disaster. In our model, the degree of vul- nerability depends on the nature of the disaster, i.e., its strength, duration and scope, and the households ability to respond and recover. Vulnerability indices for various socio-economic groups are computed on the basis of risk- averse public perceptions. This study provides sound analytical and empirical guidance to decision makers regarding the most e¤ective and e¢ cient way to allocate resources among cities to minimize social and economic vulnerability. Currently, methods are lacking for assessing and ranking vulnerabilities in a systematic and integrated manner. We estimated model parameters based on the socio-economic and loss data compiled from public and private sources after Hurricane Katrina. Our empirical method offers a novel approach to quantify and rank vulnerability of population groups during a disaster.