New Publication on Gulf Coast Recovery

lk37Today the Mercatus Center released the second edition of our Local Knowledge series focusing on the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Caring Communities: The Role of Nonprofits in Rebuilding the Gulf Coast focuses on the role that social entrepreneurs and nonprofit groups are playing in leading the recovery.

From the introduction:

The idea of “social entrepreneurship”—innovation in the philanthropic sector to fill in the gaps left by both the market sector and the state sector—has become a hot topic in the last decade.  People increasingly wonder how nonprofit enterprises and social entrepreneurs can effectively mimic the successes of the market economy in increasing human welfare, choice, and dignity without either the profit-loss system of markets or the democratic and constitutional checks of the public sector.

Bereft of the anonymous mechanisms of self-governance that exist in a market economy, however, how do social entrepreneurs know if they are doing the right thing in choosing project A or project B? How do they calculate the use of scarce time and financial resources? How effective are their organizations, and how helpful are they to communities and society at large?


Across the Gulf Coast, the voices of people affected by Katrina have showed us how people acquire knowledge and how people perceive government, businesses, and community efforts. Social scientific research, based on over 450 hours of interviews with people from the Gulf Coast, is critical to better understanding how people, businesses, and communities prepare for and rebuild after disasters and the role that the for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors play in every day social and economic interactions.

The whole thing is here. Last year’s edition, focusing on the commercial sector’s role in rebuilding, is here.