Impacts of Flooding and Flood Preparedness on Subjective Well-Being: A Monetisation of the Tangible and Intangible Impacts

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Flood disasters severely impact human subjective well-being (SWB). Nevertheless, few studies have examined the influence of flood events on individual well-being and how such impacts may be limited by flood protection measures. This study estimates the long term impacts on individual subjective well-being of flood experiences, individual subjective flood risk perceptions, and household flood preparedness decisions. These effects are monetised and placed in context through a comparison with impacts of other adverse events on well-being. We collected data from households in flood-prone areas in France. The results indicate that experiencing a flood has a large negative impact on subjective well-being that is incompletely attenuated over time. Moreover, individuals do not need to be directly affected by floods to suffer SWB losses since subjective well-being is lower for those who expect their flood risk to increase or who have seen a neighbour being flooded. Floodplain inhabitants who prepared for flooding by elevating their home have a higher subjective well-being. A monetisation of the aforementioned well-being impacts shows that a flood requires €150,000 in immediate compensation to attenuate SWB losses. The decomposition of the monetised impacts of flood experience into tangible losses and intangible effects on SWB shows that intangible effects are about twice as large as the tangible direct monetary flood losses. Investments in flood protection infrastructure may be under funded if the intangible SWB benefits of flood protection are not taken into account.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Ordered logit models that are consistent with the ordinal interpretation were also estimated (results reported in SI.D), which provided similar results.

  2. 2.

    Other control variables may suffer from similar problems due to the SWBDs acting aggregation sources of SWB.

  3. 3.

    A drawback of this approach is that, the results are quite sensitive to how the income categories are converted into continuous values.

  4. 4.

    As Eq. (4) can also be written as \(\frac{{\partial { \ln }\left( {income} \right)}}{{\partial SWB_{x} }}\), this is approximately equal to the percentage change in income given a one unit change in x.

  5. 5.

    Moreover, there may be a connection between flood preparedness decisions and personality. Several studies find that protection motivation theory (PMT) can explain household flood preparedness decisions (e.g. Poussin et al., 2014). Personality is a factor that determines a household’s PMT evaluation (Maddux and Rogers, 1983). Heller et al. (2005) argue that the most appropriate aspect of an individual’s personality in this regard is their tendency to worry about natural hazards. We controlled for worry in our regression models by including a series of dummy variables of how concerned the respondent is with current and future flood risk.

  6. 6.

    An additional sensitivity test is conducted by including a binary variable that indicates if the individual is motivated to further reduce or manage their risk. The rationale is that an individual who is motivated to further manage and control the external issue of flood risk may not be as pessimistic as others who are not as motivated. Including this variable did not affect our main results.


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The research leading to these results has received funding from the EU 7th Framework Program through the project ENHANCE (Grant Agreement No. 308438) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) VIDI and VICI (016.140.067; 452.14.005) grant programs.

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Correspondence to Paul Hudson.

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Hudson, P., Botzen, W.J.W., Poussin, J. et al. Impacts of Flooding and Flood Preparedness on Subjective Well-Being: A Monetisation of the Tangible and Intangible Impacts. J Happiness Stud 20, 665–682 (2019).

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  • Flooding
  • Subjective well-being
  • Intangible losses
  • Tangible losses
  • Climate change
  • Adaptation
  • Climate change adaptation