Risk Analysis

Flood Risk, Flood Mitigation, and Location Choice: Evaluating the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System

Journal Article

Climate change is expected to worsen the negative effects of natural disasters like floods. The negative impacts, however, can be mitigated by individuals’ adjustments through migration and relocation behaviors. Previous literature has identified flood risk as one significant driver in relocation decisions, but no prior study examines the effect of the National Flood Insurance Program's voluntary program—the Community Rating System (CRS)—on residential location choice. This article fills this gap and tests the hypothesis that flood risk and the CRS‐creditable flood control activities affect residential location choices. We employ a two‐stage sorting model to empirically estimate the effects. In the first stage, individuals’ risk perception and preference heterogeneity for the CRS activities are considered, while mean effects of flood risk and the CRS activities are estimated in the second stage. We then estimate heterogeneous marginal willingness to pay (WTP) for the CRS activities by category. Results show that age, ethnicity and race, educational attainment, and prior exposure to risk explain risk perception. We find significant values for the CRS‐creditable mitigation activities, which provides empirical evidence for the benefits associated with the program. The marginal WTP for an additional credit point earned for public information activities, including hazard disclosure, is found to be the highest. Results also suggest that water amenities dominate flood risk. Thus, high amenity values may increase exposure to flood risk, and flood mitigation projects should be strategized in coastal regions accordingly.

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