2015 APPAM Conference

I just attended the Association for Public Policy and Analysis (APPAM) fall conference in Miami with Mike Goodman and Nick Anguelov. This was my first time attending and presenting at a major research conference. My poster was on the potential effect of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on risk perception. I conducted this work with Chad McGuire and Mike Goodman. The NFIP was created to help share risks with flood-prone communities with the hope of mitigating risky behavior through insurance price signaling (Anderson, 1974). Prior research suggests that insurance premiums do indeed act as a proxy for risk (Browne & Hoyt, 2000; Petrolia et al., 2013; Siegrist & Gutscher, 2006). The problem is that current premiums collected annually are not enough to cover the claims paid by the program, which suggests a subsidy. As subsidies lower the price of insurance, they signal a lower level of risk. We examined the relationship between the proportional cost of the insurance (premium divided by value insured) and the average policy value at the municipal level for the 331 Massachusetts towns for which data are available. We found that proportional cost was significantly negatively correlated with average policy value, suggesting that higher valued properties pay proportionately less for their insurance. The people who stopped by my poster seemed interested in the project and were generally unaware of the NFIP.
The selection of sessions and interests seemed endless, and I found myself choosing between multiple sessions for each timeslot. The most interesting sessions to me were on managing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) data and analyses of family and sick leave policies. I met some great scholars and had some interesting and impactful conversations about research across disciplines. Some of these conversations were helpful as I prepare applications for doctoral programs, and others helped refine my research interests and exposed me to new data sources. Overall, this was a fun and influential experience. I am grateful for the support I received from the Public Policy Center, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Anderson, D.R. (1974). The National Flood Insurance Program: Problems and potential. The Journal of Risk and Insurance, 41(4), 579-599.

Browne, M.J., & Hoyt, R.E. (2000). The demand for flood insurance: Empirical evidence. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 23(3), 291-306.

Petrolia, D., Landry, C., & Coble, K. (2013). Risk preferences, risk perceptions, and flood insurance. Land Economics, 89(2), 227-245.

Siegrist, M., & Gutscher, H. (2006). Flooding risks: A comparison of lay people’s perceptions and expert’s assessments in Switzerland. Risk Analysis, 26(4), 971-979.