Dependence of floodrisk perceptions on socio-economic and objective risk factors

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This study examines flood risk perceptions of individuals in the Netherlands using a survey of approximately 1000 homeowners. Perceptions of a range of aspects of flood risk are elicited. Various statistical models are used to estimate the influence of socioeconomic and geographical characteristics, personal experience with flooding, knowledge of flood threats, and individual risk attitudes on shaping risk belief. The study shows that in general, perceptions of flood risk are low. An analysis of the factors determining risk perceptions provides four main insights relevant for policy makers and insurers. First, differences in expected risk are consistently related to actual risk levels, since individuals in the vicinity of a main river and low-lying areas generally have elevated risk perceptions. Second, individuals in areas unprotected by dikes tend to underestimate their risk of flooding. Third, individuals with little knowledge of the causes of flood events have lower perceptions of flood risk. Fourth, there is some evidence that older and more highly educated individuals have a lower flood risk perception. The findings indicate that increasing knowledge of citizens about the causes of flooding may increase flood risk awareness. It is especially important to target individuals who live in areas unprotected by dike infrastructure, since they tend to be unaware of or ignore the high risk exposure faced. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue numberW10440
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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