Gulf Coast Recovery
A Mercatus Center Project
The Gulf Coast Recovery Project conducted by the Mercatus Center, a Charles G. Koch
Charitable Foundation grant recipient, has the goal of determining the roles that public,
commercial, and non-profit sectors can best play in responding to disasters and rebuilding
communities affected by large-scale catastrophes.
The Gulf Coast Recovery Project is a five-year project to study long-term redevelopment after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The goal is to determine the roles that public, commercial, and non-profit sectors can best play in rebuilding communities affected by large scale catastrophes. Mercatus researchers are looking at these roles with the goal of developing actionable knowledge that will help inform investment decisions made by community, business, and government leaders as they go forward.
These success stories involve intrepid, committed entrepreneurs who are developing an amazing array of businesses—from small-scale shops to multinational corporations—and the institutions that support them. These entrepreneurs are promoting economic growth and are an unheralded key to disaster recovery and poverty alleviation.
"This project is focusing on what drives recovery after crisis," said Brian Hooks, Chief Operating Officer of the Mercatus Center.
At the midway point, the project has produced over 40 studies including articles in top scholarly journals, policy papers, and working papers. By bringing the experience and expertise of a diverse group of economists, political scientists, sociologists, civil engineers, and policy analysts, the project has studied a wide array of topics aimed at understanding what contributes to or inhibits resilience and social progress - including regulation, infrastructure investment, community-based recovery, post-disaster entrepreneurship, and federal disaster policy.
One thing that makes this study unique is the Mercatus Center’s focus on what they call the "political economy of everyday life" or, how community leaders, entrepreneurs, households, elected officials, and everyday citizens make decisions after disasters. Mercatus Center scholar’s methods and traditions enable them to focus their research on how and why the individual decisions that create larger trends are made and how decision-makers influence one another. Understanding disaster response and recovery as an emergent phenomenon, not an orchestrated collective undertaking, give Mercatus Center scholars the impetus to ask questions that differ from what other scholars were asking. Using this research methodology and tools such as ethnographic fieldwork, institutional analysis, and market process theory allows them to delve into the political economy of everyday life in a way that other researchers have not.
The Mercatus Center has conducted over 450 hours of interviews with people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas involved in rebuilding efforts. These interviews, and the studies that they inform, serve as a record of what worked after Katrina and will remain a resource for decision-makers and scholars in the future. Mercatus also knows the importance of getting the findings into the hands of people willing and able to act upon them. "We want to advance social programs that make the world a better place," said Hooks. "We want people to know that local knowledge and local action can have a huge impact."
To read more about the Gulf Coast Recovery Project, visit localknowledge.mercatus.org.