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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

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    Cited by:

    1. Kerry Smith, V. & Whitmore, Ben, 2020. "Coastal amenities and income stratification," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 192(C).
    2. Odersky, Moritz & Löffler, Max, 2023. "The Distributional Impact of Global Warming: Evidence from the 2021 Floods in Germany," VfS Annual Conference 2023 (Regensburg): Growth and the "sociale Frage" 277684, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Kakuho Furukawa & Hibiki Ichiue & Noriyuki Shiraki, 2020. "How Does Climate Change Interact with the Financial System? A Survey," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 20-E-8, Bank of Japan.
    4. Laura Bakkensen & Toan Phan & Russell Wong, 2023. "Leveraging the Disagreement on Climate Change: Theory and Evidence," Working Paper 23-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    5. Georgic, Will C. & Klaiber, Allen, 2018. "Identifying the Costs to Homeowners of Eliminating NFIP Subsidies," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274444, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Bakkensen, Laura A. & Ma, Lala, 2020. "Sorting over flood risk and implications for policy reform," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    7. Sally Owen & Ilan Noy, 2019. "Regressivity in Public Natural Hazard Insurance: a Quantitative Analysis of the New Zealand Case," Economics of Disasters and Climate Change, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 235-255, October.
    8. Georgic, Will & Klaiber, H. Allen, 2022. "Stocks, flows, and flood insurance: A nationwide analysis of the capitalized impact of annual premium discounts on housing values," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).

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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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