Population and Environment

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 305–322 | Cite as

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

  • Elizabeth FussellEmail author
  • Katherine J. Curtis
  • Jack DeWaard
Research Brief


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.


Migration Migration systems Environment New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Climate change 



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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Fussell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine J. Curtis
    • 2
  • Jack DeWaard
    • 3
  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolisUSA

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