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Flooded Communities: Explaining Local Reactions to the Post-Katrina Migrants

46 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2009  

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: November 18, 2009


This paper uses the post-Katrina migration as an exogenous shock to test theories of contact and racial threat while minimizing concerns about selection bias. Drawing on a new survey of 3,879 respondents, it demonstrates that despite the national concern about issues of race and poverty following Katrina, people in some communities that took in evacuees became less supportive of spending to help the poor and African Americans. There is no evidence that direct contact with evacuees softened attitudes. Yet hypotheses based on racial threat are not sufficient, since they cannot explain why the evacuees provoked an anti-crime reaction in Houston and an anti-spending reaction in Baton Rouge. The results instead suggest a novel hypothesis that threatened responses to newcomers hinge on both local conditions and the coverage of their arrival in the local media. In-depth interviews, content analyses of media coverage, and a pre-Katrina survey provide additional evidence supporting this "politicized places" approach.

Keywords: Hurricane Katrina, poverty, race, inter-group threat, demographic change, media influence, framing

JEL Classification: H53, I30, J15

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J., Flooded Communities: Explaining Local Reactions to the Post-Katrina Migrants (November 18, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States


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