How Disasters Exacerbate Wealth Inequality

After disasters, black residents lose wealth on average, and white residents gain wealth. Also, homeowners are more likely to benefit than renters. This model, developed by sociologists Junia Howell and James R. Elliott, uses county-level data to show expected change in net worth for different demographics as a result of disasters such as floods, fires and hurricanes between 1999 and 2013.


County damage assessments are in 2015 dollars. Some counties experienced more than $1 billion in natural hazard damages between 1999 and 2013. For their model, Howell and Elliott chose a $1 billion limit "to illustrate a more common scenario." (Full methodology)