Amenities, Risk, and Flood Insurance Reform

Amenities, Risk, and Flood Insurance Reform

This paper provides the first, comprehensive evidence on the question of whether the subsidized flood insurance rates are needed to meet the affordability goal of the National Flood Insurance Program. We use IRS records at the zip code level from 2009 to 2016 to compare the real median incomes of homeowners in areas subject to flooding risks to those homeowners in neighboring zip codes. Our analysis includes all of the Gulf Coast states and over 1000 other communities around the United States containing FEMA designated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA). There are clear patterns of positive income stratification for coastal locations in Florida, New Jersey, and New York. We also find lower income for coastal locations in California, North Carolina, as well as the shoreline along rivers identified as in SFHA in Delaware, and Virginia fit this pattern.

V. Kerry Smith and Ben Whitmore


February 2019

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