Recovery migration to the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: A migration systems approach

Elizabeth Fussell, Katherine J. Curtis, Jack DeWaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Hurricane Katrina's effect on the population of the City of New Orleans provides a model of how severe weather events, which are likely to increase in frequency and strength as the climate warms, might affect other large coastal cities. Our research focuses on changes in the migration system-defined as the system of ties between Orleans Parish and all other U.S. counties-between the pre-disaster (1999-2004) and recovery (2007-2009) periods. Using Internal Revenue Service county-to-county migration flow data, we find that in the recovery period, Orleans Parish increased the number of migration ties with and received larger migration flows from nearby counties in the Gulf of Mexico coastal region, thereby spatially concentrating and intensifying the in-migration dimension of this predominantly urban system, while the out-migration dimension contracted and had smaller flows. We interpret these changes as the migration system relying on its strongest ties to nearby and less-damaged counties to generate recovery in-migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-322
Number of pages18
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported center Grant #R24 HD047873 and training Grant #T32 HD07014 awarded to the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and center Grant #R24 HD041023 awarded to the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and by funds to Curtis from the Wisconsin Agricultural Experimental Station and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. We thank Lori Hunter and Patricia Romero-Lankao for organizing the CUPC-NCAR Workshop on Migration, Urbanization, and Climate Change held May 7–8, 2012, in Boulder, Colorado, where Curtis and Fussell began this project; the Department of Global Health Systems and Development at the Tulane University School of Public Health where Fussell was hosted from 2012 to 2013; Lori Hunter and the University of Colorado Population Center for organizing the summer short course, Environmental Demography, that DeWaard attended on June 13–14, 2013; and William R. Buckingham at the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his cartographic expertise.

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Climate change
  • Environment
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Migration
  • Migration systems
  • New Orleans


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