Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



The Netherlands is a kingdom known for resisting the perils of natural disaster and keeping records of how these great feats were accomplished. The Dutch have measured physical risk through methods such as the intricate VNK models to predict flood scenarios, but little research has been conducted to examine how the people living in affected areas could be impacted from a natural disaster event. This study employs fine-scale data to construct a social vulnerability index for the 164 districts of the low-lying delta province of Zeeland. The methodology used to measure social vulnerability is built on recent social vulnerability and resilience research that has been conducted in North America, Asia, and Europe. Specific attention is paid to methods used previously and how they can be improved from a statistical standpoint. Factor Analysis of 35 variables selected from the resilience and social vulnerability literature results in nine factors explaining about 72% of the total variance. The factors of vulnerability in Zeeland include Density of the Built Environment and Public Support, Reduced Wealth and Single Households, Infrastructure Accessibility and Career Qualifications, Recovery Capacity and Female Gender, Personal Wealth, Occupation, Residential Quality, Access to Healthcare, and Evacuation Potential. The index is constructed using data for all 35 variables with weight decided by the variance explained by each factor. Relative index scores range from a low social vulnerability score of 0.248 in the district Kattendijk, Goes, to the highest social vulnerability score of 0.458 found in Oudelandse Hoeve, Ternuezen. The highest-scoring districts are located towards the South of Zeeland. Eight of the ten most vulnerable districts located in Terneuzen. The Municipality of Goes contains more low-scoring districts than any other municipality. The majority of low scoring, less vulnerable districts are located on the Central lobe of Zeeland. The results of the social vulnerability analysis provide new insights for policy makers, researchers, and community stakeholders that could be combined with Dutch flood-scenario models to guide planning efforts in the Netherlands to mitigate the damaging impacts of future floods. The study provides an example for adaptation of a social vulnerability index for a fine level of analysis.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret Anne