A Portrait of Louisiana 2009

UPDATE: A Portrait of Louisiana 2020 released October 28, 2020




A Portrait of LOUISIANA: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009
In 2009, Louisiana ranked 49th among U.S. states and Washington, D.C. on the American Human Development Index, with wide disparities within the state. This study examines disparities by parish, race, and gender in Louisiana, and calls for action to address the acute human vulnerability that persist four years after Hurricane Katrina.

The report is commissioned by Oxfam America and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, with funding from Oxfam America and the Foundation for the Mid South.

What’s in this report?

  • A human development index for Louisiana, using post-Katrina data, with rankings by parish groups, ethnicity and gender. The index reveals that while some groups within the state enjoy levels of well-being that surpass those of first-ranked Connecticut, others experience health, education, and income levels of the rest of the country thirty, forty, even fifty years ago;
  • First-ever 2007 life expectancy calculations for all Louisiana parishes and for whites and African Americans in each parish;
  • Reliable international comparisons of groups within Louisiana to well-being measures in other countries. African American life span in Louisiana today (72.2 years) is shorter than that in Colombia, Vietnam and Venezuela.

Evidence from disaster recovery around the world suggests that the rebuilding phase often results in a further concentration of power and resources in the hands of elites. When published, we calculated that federal hurricane recovery dollars directed to Louisiana thus far amounted to nearly $15,000 for each and every man, woman, and child in the state. Ensuring that recovery benefits everyone requires that Louisiana state and local officials set concrete targets and provide easily understood reports to the general public on the use of recovery dollars. Equally critical is that the people of Louisiana and Mississippi raise their voices to demand accountability.