Non-Evacuation during Hurricane Katrina: Examining the Question of Choice

Brian C. Thiede, Cornell University
David L. Brown, Cornell University

This paper builds upon previous demographic research on evacuation behavior in the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina by examining the question of individual choice. In contrast to previous studies' binary comparisons of evacuee and non-evacuee populations, our models distinguish between households that chose to not evacuate and those that wanted to evacuate by were unable. This simple but critical step allows us to resolve the current disagreement among researchers about the factors shaping evacuation during Katrina - particularly race. We report the first systematic evidence that black residents were more likely to have been unable to evacuate than their white neighbors. We also find that education, social networks, information attainment, and other socioeconomic indicators had significant effects on evacuation behavior. These findings suggest that social and cultural factors played an important role in evacuation behavior, which stands in contrast to purely economic models of human mobility.

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Presented in Poster Session 6