Katrina's Children: Evidence on the Structure of Peer Effects from Hurricane Evacuees
55 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2009 Last revised: 2 Oct 2009
Date Written: August 2009
In 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced many children to relocate across the Southeast. While schools quickly enrolled evacuees, receiving families worried about the impact of evacuees on non-evacuee students. Data from Houston and Louisiana show that, on average, the influx of evacuees moderately reduced elementary math test scores in Houston. We reject linear-in-means models of peer effects and find evidence of a highly non-linear but monotonic model - student achievement improves with high ability and worsens with low ability peers. Moreover, exposure to undisciplined evacuees increased native absenteeism and disciplinary problems, supporting a "bad apple" model in behavior.
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