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Middle Class Flight from Post-Katrina New Orleans: A Theoretical Analysis of Inequality and Schooling

Author

Listed:
  • Stefano Barbieri

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • John H. Y. Edwards

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Abstract

This paper stylizes the most salient characteristics of New Orleans' people and the Katrina evacuation and constructs a formal, theoretical model of their decision to return. We use the model to examine the post-Katrina population composition of the city, the evolution in its income distribution and in the welfare of its citizens, and changes in the level of education privately and publicly provided. Our results are, overall, positive for the new New Orleans. While smaller, the new New Orleans is more skill-intensive and education levels improve; these changes are broadly consistent with observed effects of Katrina on New Orleans. Moreover, while the possibility remains that Katrina-like events cause "middle-class flight," inequality is reduced under standard distributional assumptions, such as log-concavity. Nonetheless, the fact that many among the unskilled are unable to return remains problematic from an ethical point of view. Our analysis of a disaster's long term impact on a city through its effects on demographic composition, income and human capital distribution, and fiscal structure elucidates major determinants of urban resilience after a natural disaster.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Barbieri & John H. Y. Edwards, 2015. "Middle Class Flight from Post-Katrina New Orleans: A Theoretical Analysis of Inequality and Schooling," Working Papers 1519, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1519
    as

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    File URL: http://repec.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1519.pdf
    File Function: First Version, September 2015
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    4. Marcus Berliant & John H. Y. Edwards, 2004. "Efficient Allocations in Club Economies," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(1), pages 43-63, February.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    local public goods; inequality; disasters; income distribution; education; resilience;

    JEL classification:

    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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