Disaster Risk Management Lab

In the face of escalating losses from natural and man-made hazards, the Disaster Risk Management Lab undertakes research on risk financing and risk reduction strategies.  Ongoing projects examine the functioning of disaster insurance markets, innovative risk transfer products, the design and impact of government disaster aid programs, post-disaster credit markets, and public-private partnerships to ensure equitable financial recovery for all households.  Work also seeks to advance smart development, cost-effective building codes, and improved infrastructure decisions.

The National Flood Insurance Program

The Wharton Risk Center has ongoing research on a range of aspects of flood insurance in the United States including risk communication, financing catastrophic losses, the private market, affordability, and flood risk-reduction.

Risk Transfer for Coastal Adaptation

An ongoing project is investing how innovations in risk transfer can help promote climate adaptation in coastal communities.

Federal Disaster Aid

The Wharton Risk Center examines the disaster assistance policies and their impacts on households, communities, and federal taxpayers. We are exploring policies to enhance equitable recovery and building back better.

The Impact of Flooding on the U.S. Housing Market

Wharton Risk Center researchers are exploring the impact of flood risk on the U.S. housing market and on the mortgage financing system.

Kousky, C. and S. Light (2019). Insuring Nature. Duke Law Journal, 69.

Kousky, C., Ritchie, L., Tierney, K. and B. Lingle (2019). Return on Investment Analysis and its Applicability to Community Disaster Preparedness Activities: Calculating Costs and Returns. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 41.

Kousky, C. (2019). The Role of Natural Disaster Insurance in Recovery and Risk Reduction.  Annual Review of Resource Economics, 11.

Pauly, M. V., & Kunreuther, H. (2019). Responses to losses in high-deductible health insurance: persistence, emotions, and rationality. Behavioural Public Policy, 3(1), 72-86.

Kousky, C., K. Greig, and B. Lingle (2019). Financing Third Party Wildfire Damages: Options for California’s Electric Utilities. Philadelphia: Wharton Risk Center, University of Pennsylvania. January.

Kousky, C. (2018). Financing flood losses: A discussion of the National Flood Insurance Program.  Risk Management and Insurance Review, 21(1), 11-32.

Kousky, C., & Kunreuther, H. (2018). Risk management roles of the public and private sector.  Risk Management and Insurance Review, 21(1), 181-204.

Kousky, C. and B. Lingle (2018). The Three Maps That Explain Residential Flood Insurance.  BRINK. September 13.

Kousky, C. and H. Kunreuther (2018). A Framework for Managing Catastrophic Risks. Wharton Risk Center Issue Brief, August.

Kousky, C., H. Kunreuther, B Lingle, and L. Shabman (2018). The Emerging Private Residential Flood Insurance Market in the United States. Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, July.

Ripberger, J. T., Jenkins‐Smith, H. C., Silva, C. L., Czajkowski, J., Kunreuther, H., & Simmons, K. M. (2018). Tornado damage mitigation: homeowner support for enhanced building codes in Oklahoma.  Risk analysis, 38(11), 2300-2317.

Kousky, C., Michel-Kerjan, E. O., & Raschky, P. A. (2018). Does federal disaster assistance crowd out flood insurance?.  Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 87, 150-164.

Mirchi, A., Watkins, D. W., Engel, V., Sukop, M. C., Czajkowski, J., Bhat, M., … & Weisskoff, R. (2018). A hydro-economic model of South Florida water resources system. Science of the Total Environment, 628, 1531-1541.

Simmons, K. M., Czajkowski, J., & Done, J. M. (2018). Economic effectiveness of implementing a statewide building code: the case of Florida.  Land Economics, 94(2), 155-174.

Kousky, C., B. Lingle, and L. Shabman (2017). “The Pricing of Flood Insurance.” Journal of Extreme Events. 04, 1750001.

Kousky, C., & Shabman, L. (2017). Federal funding for flood risk reduction in the US: Pre-or post-disaster?  Water Economics and Policy, 3(01), 1771001.

For a full list of publications, see our main publications page: https://riskcenter.wharton.upenn.edu/publications/

Below is a selection of past research projects.

Terrorism Insurance

Since 2001, the Wharton Risk Center has been advancing knowledge on terrorism insurance markets by providing policymakers and key industry decision makers with analysis of what roles the public and private sectors can and should play with respect to terrorism risk coverage in the United States and abroad in the post-9/11 world.

Critical Infrastructure

The Wharton Risk Center has researched the role of insurance in providing financial protection against infrastructure damage and encouraging investment in loss reduction measures. Previous investigation provided insight on barriers and opportunities for improving transportation infrastructure resilience to catastrophic events.

Effective Leadership Practices in Catastrophe Risk Management

Launched in 2010, this Wharton Risk Center project examined the risk management practices of large, publicly traded companies to identify effective strategies for detecting, preparing for and coping with catastrophic events.

Third Party Inspections

Underlying public cries for better or increased inspections that often follow an industry disaster or near-disaster is a fundamental problem of virtually every regulatory agency and regulated industry: the number of regulated firms far exceeds the resources of agencies to inspect those firms. The Wharton Risk Center examined the value of enhancing the role that third-parties play in implementing regulations.

New Digital Dialogue

Improving the Disaster Recovery of Low Income Households

In our most recent Digital Dialogue, the Risk Center partnered with the Urban Institute to lead expert ideation on: How can federal disaster aid programs be improved to assist low income households?  What policy changes need to be made to support effective recovery for low income households?

Recent Report


For more information on the Disaster Risk Management Lab, contact Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director, at ckousky@wharton.upenn.edu.