Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index as a baseline, the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health dives deeper.

By Sage Kim, Ph.D, Associate Professor, Health Policy and Administration

Starting with social vulnerability.

>To take a closer look at the impact of COVID-19, we created a unique social vulnerability index or SVI using socio-demographic characteristics of the City of Chicago’s 77 community areas, to quantify the level of social vulnerability.

This social vulnerability analysis starts with indicator variables from the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year estimates between 2014-2018, including: percent poverty, percent of less than High School education, percent of female headed households with children, median household income, and employment ratio (United States Census Bureau, 2020).

To derive a composite score for the SVI, we performed principal component analysis or PCA examining the percent of African Americans, percent of Whites, and percent of Latinx separately to estimate independent effects of race/ethnicity.

About the Author

Sage Kim, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health. The School of Public Health is at the forefront of the response to COVID-19 in Chicago and the State of Illinois, with a particular focus on the needs of vulnerable populations during the pandemic. With a mission to strengthen health equity and social justice, the School’s focus ranges from local neighborhoods across Chicago to Illinois towns to communities around the globe. Learn more at

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