Going Home: Evacuation-Migration Decisions of Hurrican Katrina Survivors
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many evacuees from the Gulf region began the difficult process of deciding whether to rebuild or restart elsewhere. We examine pre-Katrina Gulf residents' decision to return to the postdisaster Gulf region—which we call the “return migration” decision. We estimate two separate return migration models, first using data from a mail survey of individuals in the affected region and then focusing on self-administered questionnaires of evacuees in Houston. Our results indicate that return migration can be affected by household income; age; education level; and employment, marital, and home ownership status, but the results depend on the population under consideration. We find no effect of “connection to place” on the return migration decision. Although the effect of income is relatively small within subsamples, we find a much higher proportion of middle income households planning to return than lower income households when comparing across the subsamples. In addition, the real wage differential between home and host region influences the likelihood of return. Larger implicit costs, in terms of foregone wages for returning, induce a lower likelihood of return. Exploiting this difference at the individual level, we are able to produce estimates of willingness to pay (WTP) to return home. Average WTP to return home for a sample of relatively poor households is estimated at $1.94 per hour or $3954 per year.
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Volume (Year): 74 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
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