Alexandra Avdeenko, Onur Eryilmaz, 03 August 2021

Sudden floods across Central Europe have led governments to initiate bailouts, putting decades-old debates on how to respond to future natural disasters back on the policy agenda. Using a representative longitudinal dataset, this column provides evidence that the 2013 floods in Germany reduced willingness to take risks among men living close to the flooded areas, but had no such effect on women. It also finds that affected households were significantly more likely to hold life insurance after the floods. The findings suggest that a portion of the costs associated with natural disasters is likely to be internalised by households at risk, with implications for governments seeking to provide incentives for household-level adaptation measures such as insurance or better building standards. 

Yatang Lin, Thomas McDermott, Guy Michaels, 22 April 2021

Despite the higher susceptibility to floods and a growing climate crisis, more than 10% of the world’s population live in low-elevation coastal zones, and that percentage is growing. This column uses a new dataset on the location of housing and flood risk across thousands of kilometres of the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts to present a detailed picture of housing in low-elevation coastal zones, and its relationship to the vulnerability of different locations to flooding and sea level rise. It also explores how sea level rise may reshape cities, and considers implications in terms of rising costs of flooding and taxpayer subsidies, the economic decline of some neighborhoods, and lengthening commutes.

Adriana Kocornik-Mina, Thomas McDermott, Guy Michaels, Ferdinand Rauch, 21 January 2016

During the past couple of months alone, floods have displaced 100,000 people or more in Kenya, in Paraguay and Uruguay, and in India, as well as more than 50,000 people in the UK. And rising sea levels due to climate change loom. This column assesses the risk and the challenges for policymakers. It details the effects of flooding in cities around the world, showing that economic activity is concentrated in low-elevation urban areas, despite their much greater exposure to flooding. And worryingly, economic activity tends to return to flood-prone low-lying areas rather than relocating.

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