Skip to main content

Household flood risk response in San Francisco Bay: linking risk information, perception, and behavior


A basic assumption about natural hazard policy is risk information will influence risk perception, which will in turn affect individual adaptive behaviors. This paper tests this basic assumption in the context of the National Flood Insurance Program and flood insurance purchasing in San Francisco Bay, California. Using spatially explicit household survey data, we use mediation models to analyze how an individual’s knowledge about which flood zone they live is associated with their flood risk perception and likelihood of purchasing flood insurance. The results suggest that the relationship between risk information, perception, and behavior varies across “risk-informed” who are aware of their flood zone designation versus “risk-uninformed” individuals who are unsure of their flood zone designation. The findings highlight the importance accurately mapping and communicating flood risks in the context of variation in topography, urban structure, and future climate change.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


Download references


The authors would like to thank Matto Mildenberge, two anonymous reviewers of Regional Environmental Change for their insightful advice and comments on previous versions of this article.


This work was supported by National Science Foundation CRISP (#1541056).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chien-shih Huang.

Additional information

Communicated by James D. Ford.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary Information


(PDF 1.58 MB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Huang, Cs., Lubell, M. Household flood risk response in San Francisco Bay: linking risk information, perception, and behavior. Reg Environ Change 22, 20 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Risk information
  • Risk perception
  • Flood insurance
  • Adaptive behaviors