May 23, 2018
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New Report Paints Landscape of LA. 4 yrs. After Katrina


American Human Development Project Takes Snapshot of U.S. Disparities

New Orleans, LA  — A new report released today reveals stark disparities in the life expectancy, educational attainment, and incomes of African Americans and whites in Louisiana as well as between the richest and poorest citizens of the state. 

The report, “A Portrait of Louisiana: Louisiana Human Development Report 2009,” is a unique snapshot that shows that while some groups enjoy some of the highest levels of well-being in the nation, others in Louisiana experience health, education, and income levels that the rest of the country surpassed three to five decades ago. The report offers new life span statistics and provides a state-wide, parish-by-parish assessment, broken down by race, of such indicators as earnings, high school completion, crime, birth weight, and more.

“This report explores actions needed to build an infrastructure of opportunity so that all in Louisiana can be productive citizens and reach their full potential,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps, co-author of both this report and the American Human Development Report. 

“Federal hurricane recovery dollars to Louisiana thus far come to about $44,000 for each and every family in the state.  The findings of this report can help to pinpoint the most strategic use of these funds.added co-author Kristen Lewis, “Investing in people is critical to economic growth and future competitiveness.”

Some surprising findings of “A Portrait of Louisiana” include the following:

·         Women in Louisiana live longer than men and have higher educational levels, yet earn an average of $13,000 less.

·         The average life span for African Americans in Louisiana today (72.2 years) is shorter than that of Colombians, Vietnamese and Venezuelans. The average life span of an African American in New Orleans is 69.3 years, nearly as low as life expectancy in North Korea.

·         Whites in Louisiana earning the least have wages and salaries on par with African Americans earning the most. The median earnings for whites range from $25,000 to $37,000. For African Americans, earnings range from $13,000 to $25,000.

·         The 6.6 % unemployment rate in Louisiana is well below the national average of 9.4 %.

The second state-specific report in a series, “A Portrait of Louisiana” is produced by the authors of The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009. It applies the American Human Development Index – a single measure of well-being for all Americans based on indicators in three key areas: health, education and income – to life in Louisiana. “A Portrait of Mississippi: Mississippi Human Development Report” launched earlier this year.

Using U.S. government statistics on longevity, educational attainment and enrollment, and earnings, the American Human Development Report revealed where America is today and set a benchmark against which to assess where we are tomorrow. In countries around the world where similar studies have been done, Human Development Index findings have proved that strategic investments in health, education, and employment boost people’s well-being as well as national prosperity. 

For more Louisiana findings, download the full report (PDF: 96ages, 4.8MB)

A Portrait of Louisiana was commissioned by the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, with funding from Oxfam America and the Foundation for the Mid South, was published by the Social Science Research Council.  The American Human Development Project is an initiative of the Social Science Research Council with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.  For more information and for the full text of the report and interactive maps of Louisiana, please visit

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