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  1. This study presents the first systematic literature review of academic research on the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) program. The CRS is a voluntary program created in 1990 as a means to incentivize communities in the United States to implement floodplain management activities that surpass those required under the National Flood Insurance Program. As participating communities adopt additional flood mitigation measures, flood insurance policyholders in those communities receive reductions in their flood insurance premiums. To identify studies for inclusion, the authors searched three academic databases using the keywords “Community Rating System” and “Federal Emergency Management Agency” and “Community Rating System”more »and “FEMA.” The search uncovered 44 studies that met the selection criteria (e.g., peer-reviewed, focus on CRS, and empirical) and are included in the review. The findings provide significant insights into the current state of research on the CRS. This paper concludes by providing some recommendations to policymakers aiming to enhance communities’ resilience to floods and by outlining a future research agenda for the academic and practitioner communities.« less
  2. Floods remain the most destructive natural hazard worldwide. Understanding and improving flood management at the community scale (i.e., levels larger than the individual or household, but smaller than regions, states, or nations) is important in order to reduce communities’ vulnerability to floods. The growing literature examining flood management at the community scale has not emphasized analysis of the impacts of a flood-risk management policy on migration and development. We contribute new evidence on the impact of the Community Ratings System (CRS), a community scale federal program, on migration and development in the United States. The CRS program was created inmore »1990 to enable communities to voluntarily reduce flood risks, and in return, receive discounted flood insurance premiums. Using panel data (1970–2010), the study estimates fixed-effects regressions with robust standard errors clustered by group. The results indicate that the CRS discourages new construction and the construction of mobile homes or trailers in participating communities. Also, the CRS discourages population growth, but encourages people to stay in CRS participating communities. The study will benefit both academics and practitioners by helping to illuminate the impact of the CRS on migration and development, and improve our understanding of community-scale flood risk management.« less
  3. This study analyzes which communities adopted flood risk management practices during the past 25 years. In particular, we focus on community-scale flood management efforts undertaken voluntarily in towns and counties across the United States. In 1990, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency created the Community Rating System (CRS) to provide incentives to local governments to improve flood resilience. About 1,300 counties and cities voluntarily participate in the CRS, but most eligible communities do not participate. Here, we explore the factors shaping community CRS participation, such as flood risk, socio-economic characteristics, and economic resources, and we assess the competing phenomena ofmore »policy diffusion versus free riding. Previous models of community-scale flood mitigation activities have all considered each community’s decision as independent of one another. Yet one community’s flood management activities might directly or indirectly influence its neighbors’ mitigation efforts. Spillover effects or “contagion” may arise if neighboring communities learn from or seek to emulate or outcompete early adopting neighbors. Conversely, stricter regulation in one community may allow its neighbors to capitalize on looser regulation either by attracting more development or enjoying reduced “downstream” flood risks. This paper presents a conceptual model that allows for multiple forces affecting diffusion, such as copycatting and learning from neighboring communities, free-riding on neighbors’ efforts, and competing with neighbors to provide valuable amenities. We empirically test for these alternative diffusion pathways after controlling for the spatially correlated extant flood risks, building patterns, and demographics. The analysis integrates several large datasets to predict community flood risk management for all cities and counties in the US since 1990. Controls for local flood risk combined with a spatial lag regression model allow separate identification of alternative diffusion pathways. The results indicate strong evidence of copycatting and also suggest possible free-riding.« less