The Dean of Literary Journalism, Malcolm Gladwell, has a piece in the latest New Yorker, Starting Over, that explores what happened to families and individuals who were forced to leave New Orleans after Katrina. We just observed the tenth anniversary of that awful storm, and the story contains some surprising observations.
This is some of the research on which Gladwell built his article. David S. Kirk, then of the University of Texas at Austin, wanted to answer the question: “What effect does where you live have on how you turn out?” and — sadly — the mass exodus forced on mostly poor and mostly black residents of New Orleans was a perfect laboratory. What he found among prisoners who were formerly from the Big Easy?
Those who went home had a recidivism rate of sixty per cent. Those who couldn’t go home had a rate of forty-five per cent. They moved away. Their lives got better.
Read Gladwell’s piece. It’s awesome. I intend to revisit it in another venue: The effect of low-resource neighborhoods on those neighborhoods’ inhabitants.