Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling
27 June 2019

Household Adjustments to Hurricane Katrina

Household adjustment patterns in response to Hurricane Katrina are heterogeneous across ethno-racial segments, income classes, and educational attainment.


Catastrophic experiences can change the lives of disaster victims and alter the socioeconomic fabric of impacted areas. Disasters often cause massive population dislocation and force households to relocate to other areas. In this paper, we examine households’ adjustments to damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the costliest natural catastrophe in recent history, with a staggering death toll of 1,300 people and damages over $100 billion (Cutter and Gall, 2008). We explore the effects of Katrina-induced damages between post- and pre-Katrina years on changes in the shares of households with different levels of educational attainment, demographic characteristics, and income levels, as well as by the distribution of the value of housing.


Given estimated increases in vulnerable segments of the population in hazardous hotspots, efforts should focus on either revitalizing poorer neighborhoods, by investing in long-term hazard mitigation measures and improving infrastructure, with segregated housing or assisting gradual population retreat to enhance community resilience and reduce vulnerability and exposure to future catastrophic events.


This paper examines household adjustments to Hurricane Katrina by estimating the effects of Katrina-induced damages on changes in household demographics and income distributions in the Orleans Parish between 2000 and 2012. Adjustment patterns are found to be heterogeneous across ethno-racial segments, income classes, and educational attainment. Shares of middle-income and affluent households along with educated individuals decreased in severely damaged areas relative to less damaged ones. Also, the share of individuals with lower educational levels and incomes below the poverty line increased in severely damaged block groups. Furthermore, the share of the white population decreased and the share of the black population increased in damaged areas for both homeowners and renters. Overall adjustment patterns suggest that resource and financially constrained population adjust by moving into previously damaged areas, while economically capable households adjust by relocating to safer areas within or outside of the parish.

John Weyant
Stanford University
Davlasheridze, M, and Q Fan.  2017.  "Household Adjustments to Hurricane Katrina."  The Review of Regional Studies 47(1): 93-112.