Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In this dissertation, I explore the migration intentions, self-rated physical and mental health, and alcohol use of people living in regions facing environmental stressors. In my first chapter, I examine factors that predict willingness to move away from southeast Louisiana, a region threatened by land loss, hurricanes, and environmental pollution. Specifically, I assess the relationships risk perceptions, place attachment, and fishing employment have with willingness to move. I find that risk perceptions are positively related to willingness to move and that place attachment and fishing employment are negatively related to willingness to move. In my second chapter, I show the predictors of self-rated physical and mental health in Flint, Michigan, both before the Water Crisis and after. I pay special attention to the relationships race, perceived marginalization, and social capital have with self-rated health. The important takeaways from this paper are that perceived marginalization is a predictor of poorer physical and mental health before and after the Water Crisis, whereas social support predicts better health before the Water Crisis but loses much of its relationship with health after the announcement of the Flint Water Crisis. In my third chapter, I explore the relationships between resource networks, religious ecology, and alcohol misuse in the Gulf Coast. Here, I found that people in increasingly Catholic and Mainline Protestant counties tend to be at higher risk for potential alcohol misuse, and those with more local ties are at a greater risk for alcohol misuse than those with more extra-local ties. Together, these papers demonstrate how critical a person’s social life is. One consistent finding in these papers is that social capital, be it social support or community sentiments, does not always operate in the same way for different social groups. In a disaster context, social capital can be taxing on a person, especially if their close ties are also under stress.



Committee Chair

Slack, Tim