Department of Sociology


Elizabeth Fussell

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Wisconsin-Madison, 1998


Areas of Research Interest:

International Migration, Demography, Population Change after Disaster, Sociology of Youth, Sociology of Families, and Statistics/Methodology.

Current Research Interests:

Elizabeth Fussell received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998. From 1998 to 2001 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Fussell joined the WSU faculty in Fall 2007. She was on the faculty at Tulane University from 2001 until 2007. She has three main areas of research: international migration, specifically from Mexico to the United States, population change and recovery in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and the transition to adulthood from a demographic perspective.

Fussell's research in international migration focuses on migration from the northern border region of Mexico, where free trade and proximity to the Mexico-U.S. border have shaped the dynamics of migration, and the process of cumulative causation of migration from different types of places within Mexico and in other countries in Latin America.

Her research on international migration took a detour after Katrina and she began studying the Latino/a immigrants arriving as part of the recovery labor force in New Orleans. She received a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation in 2008 to continue her research on the reception of Latinos/as in New Orleans in the five years after Katrina.

Fussell is also studying population change after Katrina in two other projects. In an NIH-funded study titled “Adversity and Resilience: Effects of Hurricane Katrina on Vulnerable Populations” (with Christina Paxson, Mary C. Waters, Jean Rhodes, and Cecilia Rouse) she is studying a cohort of low-income community college students as they recover from the effects of Katrina. She is also working with Narayan Sastry and others on the Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey.

In her research on the transition to adulthood, Fussell seeks to understand how social institutions structure the transition to adulthood in developing countries and in the United States historically. She has developed a new methodology, the entropy analysis of status heterogeneity in synthetic cohorts, which uses census data to show how school attendance, labor force participation, household membership, marriage, and parenthood combine to create distinct life course structures in different times and places.

Selected Publications:

2009. Elizabeth Fussell, Narayan Sastry, and Mark VanLandingham. “Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Return Migration to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.” Population Studies Center Research Report #09-667, University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research.

2007 Elizabeth Fussell. "Constructing New Orleans, Constructing Race: A Population History." Journal of American History, Special issue titled, "Through the Eye of Katrina: Past as Prologue?" Edited by Lawrence Powell, Clarence Mohr, and Edward T. Linenthal.

2007 Elizabeth Fussell, Anne H. Gauthier and Ann Evans. "The Transition to Adulthood in Australia, Canada, and the United States: A Comparative Perspective." European Journal of Population.

2007 Timothy Haney, James R. Elliott, and Elizabeth Fussell. "Families and Hurricane Response: Evacuation, Separation, and the Emotional Toll of Hurricane Katrina." The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe, edited by David Brusma. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.

2006 Jeannie Haubert and Elizabeth Fussell. "Explaining Pro-Immigrant Sentiment in the U.S." International Migration Review. 40(3): 489-507.

2005 Elizabeth Fussell. "Measuring the Transition to Adulthood in Mexico: An Application of the Entropy Index." Advances in Life Course Research 2005. Edited by Ross MacMillan. 9: 91-122.


The Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey:

The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center:

The Social Science Research Council’s Katrina Hub:


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