Measuring Socioeconomic Vulnerability: Customized Indicators for Better Public Policies

Different private and public initiatives or projects address diverse problems of specific regions, cities or social groups in relation to climate change, environment, access to housing, transport services, cultural services and enhancing of social networks. However, those issues are deeply complex and a successful project implementation needs metrics that take into account multidimensional socioeconomic phenomena to allow better evaluation and monitoring. Sometimes in developing countries qualitative information is not included in indexes despite being a key variable to comprehend the socio economic phenomena in a multicultural environment. By the other hand, policy makers needs indexes that contains all kinds of information in order to rank or prioritize regions, households or communities with some homogeneity to plan and implement socio economic projects or apply public policies to them. 

Therefore, the aim of the course will be the development of aggregation information techniques with variables of different nature that can be summarized into multidimensional indexes using all the information available.

Taking the experience of the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS), which gathers selected practitioners from across the globe that share their experience in program implementation taking into account not only income restrictions but also cultural background, gender issues and religion -among others-, the main questions that the course will try to answer is: is it possible to construct indicators that may compare variables of such different dimensionality? How are the best approaches to aggregate this type of information?

Diversity into social groups must be taken into account; therefore, customized multidimensional indicators should be studied more deeply. For instance, the multidisciplinarity of social impact of climate change is a good example of this, where better metrics must be found to evaluate vulnerability and increase resilience of communities.

Therefore this course will start addressing different ways to measure social vulnerability, presenting the following topics: concept of social risk and social vulnerability; multidimensional indicators: quantitative and qualitative variables; dichotomy; ex-ante measures versus vulnerability measures; aggregate versus customized indicators; information aggregation techniques: linguistic and fuzzy operators; design and implementation of socioeconomic vulnerability survey; construction of customized indexes.

The course will be both theory and practice with the objective of sharing national and international experience in this field. In this sense the course will present study cases in developing countries with emphasis in vulnerability and socioeconomic measurement of targeted social groups in urban and sub-urban areas in Argentina and rural areas in Argentina and Zambia. Also, social vulnerability measurement of climate risk at a local level will be a key topic to be discuss.

This course has also the objective to create a network of students, academics and practitioners at national and international organizations that are facing the challenge of improve multidimensional socioeconomic measurement phenomena, especially in developing countries. Also select potential candidates that may be interested to develop an internship in public Latin-American institutions as a way of enhance their skills and improve the relationships between United States of America and Argentina.