Coastal vulnerability: Evolving concepts in understanding vulnerable people and places

Anthony Bevacqua, Danlin Yu, Yaojun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Coastal vulnerability is a spatial concept that identifies people and places that are susceptible to disturbances resulting from coastal hazards. Hazards in the coastal environment, such as coastal storms and erosion, pose significant threats to coastal physical, economic, and social systems. The theory of vulnerability has been an evolving idea over the past hundred years. In recent decades, improved technology and high-profile disaster events, has caused an increase in publications in the coastal hazards field. Modern approaches to understanding coastal vulnerability examine the complex systems that determine the spatial distribution of hazards, risks, and exposure. Consensus among today's researchers shows that coastal vulnerability is geographically dependent and requires place based investigations. This review examines over 200 coastal vulnerability related works. Through this extensive literature review, this research describes the evolution of vulnerability concepts, and the modern definition of vulnerability with the goal of providing a well-informed body of knowledge to be used in the advancement of resilience and increased sustainability in coastal areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Coastal hazards
  • Resilience
  • Social vulnerability
  • Vulnerability


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