Original Research

Measuring the vulnerability of sub-national regions: Integrating relative location

Stephanie Rossouw
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 20, No 1 | a1766 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v20i1.1766 | © 2017 Stephanie Rossouw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2017 | Published: 05 October 2017

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Background: The authors of this article ‘Measuring the vulnerability of sub-national regions in South Africa’ (Naudé, McGillivray and Rossouw 2009b) present an exploration into economic vulnerability from a sub-national perspective. It is an important contribution because it recognises the heterogeneous nature of vulnerability across areas within a country, but its analysis is aspatial because it does not explicitly account for the relative location of or the potential for spillovers between areas.

Aim: This article aims to provide a purely methodological contribution towards the debate surrounding the measurement of multidimensional vulnerability by: (1) augmenting Naudé et al. (2009b)’s model to take account of spatial contiguity, (2) comparing spatial and aspatial local vulnerability indices estimates to illustrate the presence and importance of spatial spillovers between contiguous areas and (3) extending their methodology on the Vulnerability Intervention Index to present results which highlight areas that are performing better and worse than expected.

Methods: Principal components analysis, queen-contiguity weight matrix and local indication of spatial association (LISA) maps were utilised.

Results: Application of the methodological extensions to South African Magisterial District data illustrates the presence and importance of spatial spillovers in shaping local vulnerability.

Conclusions: Our results illustrate a clear urban–rural vulnerability divide and the need for appropriate policy. It is argued that account of spatial spillovers is an important issue if full and accurate vulnerability indices are to be identified.


vulnerability; sub-national level; contiguity; relative location; South Africa


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