Hurricane Katrina: Was There a Political Economy of Death?
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An empirical implication of egalitarianism in the provision of public disaster relief services is that the probability of surviving a natural disaster should not be conditioned on a household’s position in the income distribution, or its racial characteristics. In this paper, we utilize data on deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina in the City of New Orleans to estimate a political economy model of the public provision of disaster rescue services. Parameter estimates reveal that the probability of dying as a result of Hurricane Katrina, at both the census tract and individual level, increased with respect to being black and poor. Our results suggest that there was a departure from egalitarian principles in the provision of public disaster rescue services during Hurricane Katrina, and are consistent with a political economy of race and class governing decisions about the allocation of public resources to ameliorate population environmental risks.
KeywordsEgalitarianism Political economy Hurricane Katrina
The author would like to thank participants of the Michigan State University Department of Economics Theory Seminar, William Darity Jr., and other participants of the 2007 University of North Carolina Institute for African American Research Conference on “Race and the Environment” for critical yet helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
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