23 Jan 2023
23 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Identifying Vulnerable Population in the Urban Society: a Case Study of Wuhan, China

Jia Xu1, Makoto Takahashi2, and Weifu Li3 Jia Xu et al.
  • 1Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116081, China
  • 2Department of Social and Human Environment, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan
  • 3College of Science, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China

Abstract. In the context of unprecedented extreme weather and climate events, the internal structural factors of society play a decisive role in the extent to which human beings are affected by disasters and their ability to respond to disasters. In the past few decades, the rapid urbanization process in developing countries represented by China has also greatly increased social vulnerability. The process has generated uneven living conditions and created many vulnerable groups, including urban poverty, migrants, and socially and geographically marginalized groups, who face difficulties in living conditions, education, livelihood stability, and so on.

This study sets up indicators from a micro perspective: three indicators of exposure, four of sensitivity, and eight of adaptive capacity are involved. Based on this evaluation index system, this study conducts a social vulnerability assessment of the populations in Hongshan District, Wuhan City, China through individual questionnaire surveys. K-means cluster analysis was used to get the high, medium, and low levels of social vulnerability, which has achieved the comparison of different community types and the identification of vulnerable groups.

The results show the close interrelationships between different types of communities in terms of physical and built environments, and different levels of social vulnerability to disasters, in particular pointing to the massive cluster of rural-to-urban migrants living in inferior urban villages, informal settlements in the city, and suffering especially from the instability of livelihoods. The quantitative understanding of the dissimilarity in the degree of social vulnerability between different communities and populations is of great significance for the reduction of social vulnerability and disaster risk specifically and pointedly.

Jia Xu et al.

Status: open (until 06 Mar 2023)

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Jia Xu et al.

Jia Xu et al.


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Short summary
Through the development of micro-individual social vulnerability indicators and the use of cluster analysis, this research has assessed the level of social vulnerability of 599 residents in 11 communities in the Hongshan District of Wuhan. Quantitative assessments offer comparisons specifically between distinct units and, the results indicate that different types of communities have great differences in social vulnerability.