Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 4, 2007

The Katrina Effect: Was There a Bright Side to the Evacuation of Greater New Orleans?

Jacob L Vigdor

Abstract

This paper uses longitudinal data from Current Population Surveys conducted between 2004 and 2006 to estimate the net impact of Hurricane Katrina-related evacuation on various indicators of well-being. While evacuees who have returned to the affected region show evidence of returning to normalcy in terms of labor supply and earnings, those who persisted in other locations exhibit large and persistent gaps, even relative to the poor outcomes of individuals destined to become evacuees observed prior to Katrina. Evacuee outcomes are not demonstrably better in destination communities with lower initial unemployment or higher growth rates. The impact of evacuation on total income was blunted to some extent by government transfer payments and by self-employment activities. Overall, there is little evidence to support the notion that poor underemployed residents of the New Orleans area were disadvantaged by their location in a relatively depressed region.

Published Online: 2007-12-4

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