The Impact of Natural Disasters on Academic Achievement Amongst Emerging Adults



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Natural disasters are largely unexpected, and their disruptive nature can devastate people’s homes, their finances, and their psychological well-being. Less, however, is known about the extent to which natural disasters can impact students’ academic achievement levels. Previous studies on natural disasters and achievement have largely contributed contradictory results, which suggests the need for more robust methodologies. Focused on Hurricane Harvey, the present study sampled 646 college students that had been living in the Houston area during the hurricane. Baseline data were collected shortly after the hurricane and official semester GPA registrar records were collected pre- and post-Hurricane Harvey. With a comprehensive index of hurricane exposure and multiple relevant controls, this study assessed whether hurricane exposure adversely affects future levels of academic achievement. Our study results suggested that, after controlling for pre-hurricane achievement and demographics, hurricane exposure was not associated with post-hurricane academic achievement. Implications of this study and future directions for natural disaster research are discussed.



Natural Disasters, Hurricanes, Emerging Adulthood, College Students, Academic Achievement