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

Paul Hudson, W. J. Wouter Botzen, Jennifer Poussin, Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-682
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2017

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