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Returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina


  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

  • Cecilia E. Rouse

    (Princeton University)


Hurricane Katrina displaced approximately 650,000 people and destroyed or severely damaged 217,000 homes along the Gulf Coast. Damage was especially severe in New Orleans, and the return of displaced residents to this city has been slow. The fraction of households receiving mail (which, in the absence of reliable population estimates, is a good indicator for returns) was 49.5 percent in August 2006, and 66.0 percent in June 2007 (Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, 2007). Low-income minority families appear to have been slower than others to return (William H. Frey and Audrey Singer, 2006). In this paper, we examine the determinants of returning to New Orleans in the 18 months after the hurricane. The data come from a study of low-income parents, mainly African American women, who were enrolled in a community college intervention prior to the hurricane. Although the sample is not representative of the pre-Katrina population of the city, it nonetheless is of great interest. The relatively slow return of low income, primarily African American, residents is a politically charged issue. One (extreme) view is that the redevelopment plans are designed to discourage low-income minority residents from returning. A quite different view is that members of this group have found better opportunities outside of New Orleans, and do not want to return. Because few data sets trace individuals from before to after the hurricane, this debate has taken place largely without the benefit of evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Paxson & Cecilia E. Rouse, 2008. "Returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina," Working Papers 1043, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:522

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey A. Groen† & Mark J. Kutzbach & Anne E. Polivka‡, 2015. "Storms and Jobs: The Effect of Hurricanes on Individuals’ Employment and Earnings over the Long Term," Working Papers 15-21r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Edmiston, Kelly D., 2017. "Financial Vulnerability and Personal Finance Outcomes of Natural Disasters," Research Working Paper RWP 17-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    3. Ariel R. Belasen & Solomon W. Polachek, 2013. "Natural disasters and migration," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 17, pages 309-330 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. repec:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:199-228 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Justin Gallagher & Daniel Hartley, 2017. "Household Finance after a Natural Disaster: The Case of Hurricane Katrina," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 199-228, August.
    6. repec:eee:regeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:12-29 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jeffrey A. Groen & Anne E. Polivka, 2009. "Going Home after Hurricane Katrina: Determinants of Return Migration and Changes in Affected Areas," Working Papers 428, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    More about this item


    Hurricane Katrina; New Orleans; migration; location-specific capital;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


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