Wei et al. 2004: The assessment of vulnerability

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Type of Document article (in journal)
Author Y. M. Wei, Y. Fana, C. Lua, H. T Tsai
Title The assessment of vulnerability to natural disasters in China by using the DEA method
Year 2004
Journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review
Volume 24(4)
Pages 427-439
DOI 10.1016/j.eiar.2003.12.003
Vulnerability System
Groups Population in general
Technical System Infrastructure in general
Vulnerability Driver
Hydrometeorological driver (River-)Flood
Other natural driver natural disaster in general
Scope of driver Implicit
Spatial scale of driver regional
Temporal scale of driver Discrete Shock
Interaction between drivers No interaction
Reference Framework
Spatial unit Country
Geographical area Eastern Asia
Research area China
Economic group of research area Developing countries
Temporal scale of assessment Short term, Long term
Target users Relief organisations, Politics
Operational Approach
Research design Case study
Data collection method Secondary data / official statistics
Main source of data Secondary data
Data analysis method Indexing
Name of index Vulnerability index
Participatory approach No
Theoretical Approach
Definition of vulnerability Explicit
Theoretical framework Data envelopment analysis (DEA)-based model
Description of theoretical framework Data envelopment analysis (DEA) is a method for estimating the efficiency of units, normally called decision-making units (DMUs), where it is difficult to identify absolute measures of efficiency (Charnes et al., 1978; Sheng, 1996). The method can be used to deal with systems where there are multiple inputs and multiple outputs, although these can be very difficult to visualise.
Scientific community Disaster Management and Disaster Risk Reduction


China has been greatly affected by natural disasters, so that it is of great importance to analyze the impact of natural disasters on national economy. Usually, the frequency of disasters or absolute loss inflicted by disasters is the first priority to be considered, while the capability of regions to overcome disasters is ignored. The concept of vulnerability is used to measure the capability to overcome disasters in different regions with distinctive economies. Traditional methods for vulnerability analysis calculate sub-indices based on disaster frequency, loss, the economic impact and the population of each region, and then add the sub-indices to get a composite index for regional vulnerability. But those methods are sensitive to the weights selected for subindices when multi-indexes are added up to get an index of total vulnerability. The analytic results are less convincing because of the subjectivity of different weighting methods. A data envelopment analysis (DEA)-based model for analysis of regional vulnerability to natural disasters is presented here to improve upon the traditional method. This paper systematically describes the DEA method to evaluate the relative severity of disasters in each region. A model for regional vulnerability analysis is developed, based on the annual governmental statistics from 1989 to 2000. The regional vulnerabilities in China’s mainland are illustrated as a case study, and a new method for the classification of regional vulnerability to natural disasters in China is proposed.

Definition of vulnerability

Vulnerability as ‘‘the degree to which different classes of society are differentially at risk’’ (Susman, O’Keefe and Wisner,1983: page 428).

Additional content

1. The study considers the driver of the vulnerability as the natural disaster in general.

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