The Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center is excited to join forces with several Wharton research centers and labs to form the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Initiative. The ESG Initiative will expand the boundaries of business research and education to deliver essential insights for academics, students, and industry professionals. Learn more about the ESG Initiative here.

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.

Flood Insurance

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 Climate Adaptation

Climate change is increasing the risks of weather-related disasters.  Ongoing projects are investigating how innovations in risk transfer can help promote climate adaptation in communities throughout the US, particularly in a coastal context.

Wildfire Risk Management

The costs emanating from a wildfire can be broad and impact many sectors.  Ongoing Risk Center projects are examining the economic impacts of wildfires on municipalities, as well as sources of financial recovery.

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.

Community-Based Insurance for Natural Disasters

The Wharton Risk Center has partnered with Marsh & McLennan Advantage to develop community-based models of insurance to help close the disaster insurance gap.

The Impact of Natural Disasters on U.S. Housing and Mortgage Markets

Wharton Risk Center researchers are exploring the impact of natural disaster risk on  U.S. housing markets and on the mortgage financing system.

First Street Flood Lab

Wharton Risk Center researchers have partnered with the First Street Flood Lab to examine the impacts of flood risk on residential housing markets.

Coglianese, C. (2021). What Regulators Can Learn from Global Health Governance. Global Health Governance 16:14-33.

Kunreuther, H., & Schupp, J. (2021). A framework for defining a role for insurance in “uninsurable” risks: insights from COVID-19. Journal of Insurance Regulation, 40.

Beer, S., & Braun, A. (2022). Market-consistent valuation of natural catastrophe risk. Journal of Banking & Finance, 134, 106350.

Tesselaar, M., Botzen, W.J.W., Robinson, P.J., Aerts, J.C.J.H., Zhou, F. (2022). Charity hazard and the flood insurance protection gap: an EU scale assessment under climate change. Ecological Economics, 193: 107289.

Liao, Y., & Kousky, C. (2021). The Fiscal Impacts of Wildfires on California Municipalities. The University of Chicago Press, Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. 

Netusil, N. R., Kousky, C., Neupane, S., Daniel, W., & Kunreuther, H. (2021). The willingness to pay for flood insurance. Land Economics, 110819-0160R1.

Kousky, C., H. Wiley, and L. Shabman (2021). Can Parametric Microinsurance Improve the Financial Resilience of Low-Income Households in the United States? Economics of Disasters and Climate Change

Kunreuther, H. (2021). Flood Insurance Finally Acknowledges Climate Change. Brink.

Kousky, C., H. Kunreuther, S. Xian, and N. Lin (2021). Adapting Our Flood Risk Policies to Changing Conditions.  Forthcoming in Risk Analysis.

Bernhardt, A., C. Kousky, A. Read, and C. Sykes (2021). Community-Based Catastrophe Insurance: A Model for Closing the Disaster Protection Gap. Marsh & McLennan Companies and the Wharton Risk Center, University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA.

Kousky, C. and Wiley, H. (2021). Improving the Post-Flood Financial Resilience of Lower-Income Households through Insurance. Wharton Risk Center Issue Brief. January.

Netusil, N. R., C. Kousky, S. Neupane, W. Daniel, and H. Kunreuther (2021). The Willingness to Pay for Flood Insurance. Land Economics. Available at SSRN #3703019

Wiley, H. and C. Kousky (2020).  Speeding Up Post-Disaster Housing BuyoutsSolutions. Volume 11, Issue 3. September.

Kousky, C., M. Palim, and Y. Pan (2020). Flood Damage and Mortgage Credit Risk: A Case Study of Hurricane Harvey. Journal of Housing Research, 29:sup1, S86-S120, DOI: 10.1080/10527001.2020.1840131

Kousky, C., and Golnaraghi, M. (2020). Flood Risk Management in the United States | Research report. Geneva Association.

Collier, B.L., A.F. Haughwout, H.C. Kunreuther, and E.O. Michel-Kerjan (2020). Firms’ Management of Infrequent Shocks. Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 52(6): 1329-1359, DOI:10.1111/jmcb.12674

Collier, B. L. (2020). Strengthening Local Credit Markets Through Lender-Level Index Insurance. Journal of Risk and Insurance, 87(2): 319-349, DOI: 10.1111/jori.12277

Collier, B. L. and M.A. Ragin (2020). The Influence of Sellers on Contract Choice: Evidence from Flood Insurance. Journal of Risk and Insurance, 87(2): 523-557, DOI: 10.1111/jori.12280

Tonn, G., Reilly, A., Czajkowski, J., Ghaedi, H., & Kunreuther, H. (2020). US Transportation Infrastructure Resilience: Influences of Insurance, Incentives, and Public AssistanceTransport Policy. Volume 100, January 2021, Pp 108-119.

Simmons, K. M., J. Czajkowski, and P. Kovacs (2020). Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule Participation Analysis. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment.

Kousky, C. (2020). Catastrophic Risk Transfer in a Post-Pandemic World. In: Challenges and Opportunities in the Post-COVID-19 World. World Economic Forum.

Kousky, C., and H. Wiley (2020).  The Role of Insurance in Coastal Adaptation: Workshop Findings.  Philadelphia: Wharton Risk Center, University of Pennsylvania. March.

Wing, O., N, Pinter, P. Bates, and C. Kousky (2020). New insights into US flood vulnerability revealed from flood insurance big data. Nature Communications 11: 1444.

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

Kousky, C., L. Ritchie, K. Tierney, 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., and H. Kunreuther (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., and H. Kunreuther (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.

Kunreuther, H. (2018). Improving the National Flood Insurance Program.  Behavioural Public Policy, 1-15.

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

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

Simmons, K. M., J. Czajkowski, and J.M. Done (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:

Below is a selection of past research projects.

Building Codes, Mitigation, and Critical Infrastructure

Past Risk Center research has examined how strengthening building codes post-disaster and creating better incentives for investment in property mitigation can limit future losses.  Additionally, the center has researched the role of insurance in providing financial protection against critical infrastructure damage and encouraging investment in loss reduction measures.

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.

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.

Launch of Inclusive Insurance Project 

We are thrilled to announce that the Policy Incubator has received a Stage 2 Civic Innovations grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy. Learn more on our project page.

Contributing Scholars:

Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director of the Wharton Risk Center, is responsible for leading the Disaster Risk Management Lab.

In response to a call for research proposals during the spring of 2021, five Wharton faculty members of this lab and the Business, Climate and Environment Lab were awarded grants for research related to climate and sustainability issues. Read about the awardees and their projects here.

Carolyn Kousky

Carolyn Kousky

Executive Director, Wharton Risk Management Center

Research Areas: Disaster Insurance; Natural Disaster Policy; Climate Adaptation


Susanna Berkouwer

Assistant Professor in Business Economics & Public Policy

Research Areas: Development Economics; Environmental Economics

Alex Braun

Alexander Braun

Vice Director, Institute of Insurance Economics (University of St. Gallen)

Research Areas: Catastrophe Risk, Insurance-Linked Securities, Digital Insurance, Sustainable Insurance


Benjamin Collier

Assistant Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, Fox School of Business at Temple University

Research areas: Insurance Economics; Household Finance; Small Business Economics

Jesse G

Jesse Gourevitch

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Wharton Risk Center

Research Areas: Flood risk assessment, environmental justice, property markets, and municipal finance.

Ben Keys

Benjamin Keys

Rowan Family Foundation Associate Professor of Real Estate

Research Areas: Property Markets; Housing Markets; Mortgage Markets

Howard Kunreuther

Howard Kunreuther

Co-Director Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Wharton Risk Management Center

Research Areas: Climate Adaptation; Disaster Insurance; Communication of Climate Risks; Climate Change Policy

Allison Lassiter

Allison Lassiter

Assistant Professor, City and Regional Planning, Weitzman School of Design

Research Areas: Municipal Water; Smart and Sustainable Cities; Climate Adaptation


Penny Liao

Fellow, Resources for the Future

Research Areas: Natural Disaster Impacts & Policy; Environmental Policy

Len Shabman

Len Shabman

Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future and Emeritus Professor, Virginia Tech

Research Areas: Flood Risk Management, Environmental Market Design, Public Investment Analysis

Mike Useem

Michael Useem

Professor of Management and Faculty Director of the Wharton Leadership Center and McNulty Leadership Program

Research areas:  Governance, management, and leadership

Song You About Us

Xuesong (Song) You

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Wharton Risk Center

Research Areas: Disaster Impacts; Business Economics; Credit Markets.

Contributing Doctoral Students:

Samantha Love

Samantha Love

Sociology, School of Arts and Sciences

Research Areas: Climate Adaptation; Disaster Impacts; Energy

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Philip Mulder

Applied Economics, Wharton School

Research Areas: Public economics and environmental risks and climate change in urban environments.

Eugenio Paglino

Eugenio Paglino

Demography, Population Studies Center

Research Areas: The impact of environmental change and natural disasters on population and social dynamics.