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The Affordability Goal and Prices in the National Flood Insurance Program


  • Matthew E. Kahn
  • V. Kerry Smith


The United States Gulf Region features areas that face significant flood risk. Climate change may further elevate this risk. Home owners in such areas face potentially large asset losses and property maintenance costs. Anticipating these challenges, the Federal government has enacted a complex set of policies through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP offers reduced insurance rates for homes built before rate maps were drawn and grandfathers rates for homes when new maps increase their risk ratings. This paper asks if the goal of affordable NFIP insurance rates for the high risk Gulf Coast areas is warranted? We compare the income distribution of the set of people who live in the areas that face the highest risk of flooding relative to nearby areas. Our findings imply reduced rates for high risk areas cannot be justified based on the assumption that low income households live in these areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew E. Kahn & V. Kerry Smith, 2017. "The Affordability Goal and Prices in the National Flood Insurance Program," NBER Working Papers 24120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24120
    Note: EEE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dennis Epple & Holger Sieg, 1999. "Estimating Equilibrium Models of Local Jurisdictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 645-681, August.
    2. repec:wly:riskan:v:37:y:2017:i:3:p:517-530 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Randall P. Walsh, 2008. "Do People Vote with Their Feet? An Empirical Test of Tiebout," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 843-863, June.
    4. Thomas. J. Nechyba, 1997. "Existence of equilibrium and stratification in local and hierarchical Tiebout economies with property taxes and voting," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 10(2), pages 277-304.
    5. Gruber, Jonathan & Washington, Ebonya, 2005. "Subsidies to employee health insurance premiums and the health insurance market," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 253-276, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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