November 13, 2019—Two leading experts on post-disaster recovery, James Elliott of Rice University and Elizabeth Fussell of Brown University presented innovative research that examined how federal recovery assistance can exacerbate economic inequality at a recent briefing at the General Accountability Office (GAO). Drawing on sophisticated modeling that integrate data from sources such as the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Elliott and Fussell demonstrated how economic disparities between low-income and higher income groups typically widen after post-disaster federal assistance is distributed—in large measure as a result of policies that favor home owners over renters. The audience of GAO professional staff, attending both in-person and from field offices via remote access, queried the experts on both research methodology and potential policy remedies.
The PAA briefing series at GAO, launched in 2011, facilitates the dissemination of policy-relevant research developed by PAA members to GAO staff on topics of interest to them. GAO serves as the research and evaluation arm of Congress.
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