The Role of Gentrification in Predicting BMI and Self-reported Health Among Survivors of Hurricane Katrina

Alina Schnake-Mahl , Harvard University
Benjamin D. Sommers, Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital
S. V. Subramanian, Harvard School of Public Health
Mary Waters, Harvard University
Mariana Arcaya, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Despite substantial debate about the impacts of gentrification, there is limited evidence to demonstrate the consequences of gentrification for health. Using the Resiliency in Survivors of Hurricane Katrina (RISK) project, a study of predominantly non-Hispanic Black single mothers who participated in a New Orleans-based study before and after Hurricane Katrina, we study the relationship between gentrification, self-rated health, and BMI. After Katrina all participants were randomly displaced, at least temporarily, from New Orleans. We find substantial neighborhood gentrification, and that on average, participants’ health deteriorated during the study period. However, this deterioration was not associated with gentrification. The analysis employs a quasi-experimental design and has several additional unique features--homogeneous population, limited selection bias, longitudinal data collection-- that improve our ability to draw causal conclusions about the relationship between gentrification and health. This work has important implications for improving monitoring and understanding of population trends and spatial inequities in health.

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 Presented in Session 55. Migration, Community Context, and Health