Wharton Risk Management and
Decision Processes Center

For three decades, the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of basic and applied research to promote effective corporate and public policies for low-probability events with potentially catastrophic consequences.

What We Do

Decision Processes


Understanding and improving individual decision-making in the presence of uncertainty

Risk Management


Researching and evaluating strategies for risk communication, risk reduction, and risk transfer

Public Policy


Engaging decision-makers in designing
effective risk management policies

Wharton Risk Center Annual Report

Highlights of outreach and engagement activities, news items, recent publications and conferences, and a directory of faculty and research fellows associated with the Risk Center.

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Our ability to foresee and protect against natural catastrophes has never been greater, yet we fail to heed the warnings and protect ourselves and our communities. What explains this contradiction?

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Mastering Catastrophic Risk

In Mastering Catastrophic Risk, authors Howard Kunreuther and Michael Useem detail lessons for decision makers at all levels to reduce the likelihood and curtail the costs — human, financial, and reputational — of large-scale disruptions.

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Featured Publications

In the News

Designing with resilience to prepare for a changing world

Penn Today

Design and planning experts gathered on campus to take up the challenge of preparing for climate change to share strategies for adapting to rising sea levels, fiercer storms, and sinking shorelines.

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To make sure its utilities survive climate change, California needs liability law reform

Los Angeles Times

Op-ed by Carolyn Kousky: “Just as business-as-usual emissions are no longer tenable, neither is business-as-usual disaster policy.”

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How America Fails at Communicating Flood Risks


By Carolyn Kousky: We have good data about flood risks. The challenge is getting it to people when they need it, in a way that’s useful.

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Risk Center Updates

Flood Risk and the U.S. Housing Market

Today, many homeowners are uninsured against flood damage. The lack of widespread take-up of flood insurance will not only impose financial strain on families but could have spillover effects in adjoining communities and may trigger foreclosures that hurt lenders. This paper describes the U.S. housing market’s exposure to flood risk and suggests directions for future research and action.

Behavioral Insights from Text

Scholars from across the social sciences who are using natural language processing and related tools to better understand human behavior attended this Wharton Risk Center conference in January 2019.

Emotions and Insurance Purchasing Behavior

Why would a consumer, having decided whether or not to purchase insurance for a particular year, change that decision over time – even if their risk and premium remain exactly the same every year in the future?  In a new study, Behavioral Economics of Multiperiod Insurance Purchasing Behavior: the Role of Emotions, we find that many people are swayed by their emotions and past experiences when making future insurance decisions.

Research Topics


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Wharton Risk Management
and Decision Processes Center

St. Leonard’s Court | Suite 130
3819 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA  19104

P: 215-898-5688
F: 215-573-2130