Breakup of New Orleans Households after Hurricane Katrina
Michael Rendall, RAND Corporation
Little is known about the resilience of family and household structure to displacement-inducing natural disaster. Using a survey that traces the outcomes of a population-representative sample of households in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, I investigate household breakup in the year after the hurricane struck the city. I compare the incidence and type of household breakup in this survey to that for a national sample of comparable households over a similar period. Overall, 40% of New Orleans households experienced the departure of at least one member in the year following Hurricane Katrina, more than 50% higher than for the national sample. Extended-family households found in New Orleans both more common there than nationally before the hurricane, and experienced a higher rate of breakup in the year following it. The high breakup rates found for households in undamaged housing units suggests major community-wide effects of the disaster for household intactness.