The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Prevalence of Health Impairments and Disability among the Pre-Katrina Adult Population of New Orleans

Narayan Sastry, University of Michigan
Jesse Gregory, University of Michigan

We examined the effects of Hurricane Katrina on disability among adults from New Orleans in the year after the hurricane. We used data from the American Community Survey to compare disability rates between the pre-Katrina population of New Orleans with the same population in the year after Katrina. The comparison was enhanced by using propensity weights. We found a significant decline in health status for the adult population from New Orleans in the year after the hurricane, with the disability rate rising from 20.6% to 24.6%. This increase in disability reflected a large rise in mental impairments and physical impairments. These increases were, in turn, concentrated among young and middle-aged black females. Stress-related factors likely explain why these women experienced worse health outcomes, including living in dwellings and communities that suffered the most damage from the hurricane, household breakup, adverse outcomes for their children, and higher susceptibility.

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Presented in Session 201: Population Dynamics and Weather Changes: Experiences, Practices, and Implications