Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM)

Publication Date


Data Access

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Following other social vulnerability indexes, including the SoVI® developed by the Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina, this vulnerability index is based on a principal component analysis (PCA). PCA is a statistical technique that takes as its input a matrix of interrelated socioeconomic variables – in this case those considered to measure various dimensions of social vulnerability – and creates a new set of orthogonal principal components that extract the important variation the underlying input data while reducing the noise and redundancy in the data. After conducting the PCA, the researcher combines the newly created component variables into a composite index that provides a single value for each observation in the dataset, in this case a social vulnerability score. The utility of a PCA-based index is that it encapsulates a lot of information in an easily consumed form and individual observations can be ranked relative to each other.

This update uses data from the 2015-2019 American Community Survey at the census block group level where available and at the census tract level where block group data is not available. It uses the following percent of population variables: income (per capita), Black or African American, Hispanic, Native American, over 65, unemployed, poverty status, no high school degree, group quarters (i.e. nursing homes and prisons), female labor force, female households, and social security. The vulnerability indices generated depend on the variables included in the PCA as well as the geographic area of the study and the component selection and weighting criteria. Thus this vulnerability index will not necessarily match the vulnerability indices created by other researchers.


The Coastal Virginia Social Vulnerability Index has been appended to a copy of the Virginia 2019 Tiger/Line Block Groups layer downloaded from the U.S. Census Bureau. Metadata is embedded in the shapefile.

Files | Description:

  • SOVI_CoastalVirginia_BlockGroups2019_update_Aug2021_wm: GIS data



Social Vulnerability Index, Coastal Virginia, Census Blocks