Climate Related Disasters and Children’s Health: Evidence From Hurricane Harvey
January 23, 2023
2022 Wall Scholar Ethan Raker (Sociology) recently published in Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World.
Climate Related Disasters and Children’s Health: Evidence from Hurricane Harvey looks at how children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including exposure to increasingly severe extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones, floods, and heat waves.
Raker’s research uses data from the 2017-18 Health of Houston survey that was interrupted in the field by Hurricane Harvey, one of costliest disasters in U.S. history, and resumed six months later. He linked this survey data to flooding estimates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and interviewed adults about a randomly selected focal child living in the household.
His research found Hurricane Harvey led to worse parent-reported health among children six to nine months later, particularly in flooded communities. Additional evidence suggests that post-disaster children’s health correlates most strongly with disaster-induced disruption to household life and home damage, compared with household income loss. Further associational evidence shows a larger, negative relationship between health and severe household exposure for immigrant children, Hispanic, Asian or other-race children.
Raker was interviewed about his research in the SAGE Sociology podcast — listen here.