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Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Return Migration to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionFussell, Elizabeth, Narayan Sastry, and Mark VanLandingham. 2009. "Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Return Migration to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina." PSC Research Report No. 09-667. January 2009.

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on 29 August 2005 and displaced virtually the entire population of the city. In this paper, we investigate return migration to the city by displaced residents over a period of approximately 14 months following the storm, describing overall return rates and examining differences in return rates by race and socioeconomic status. We use data from a representative sample of pre-Katrina New Orleans residents collected in the Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Survey. We find that black residents returned to the city at a much slower pace than white residents even after controlling for socioeconomic status and demographic characteristics. However, the racial disparity disappears after controlling for housing damage. We conclude that blacks tended to live in areas that experienced greater flooding and hence suffered more severe housing damage which, in turn, led to their delayed return to the city.

Country of focus: United States.

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