New Orleans and Bangkok are vivid examples of major urban areas recently affected by massive inundations of floodwaters. The pending effects of climate change may exacerbate this problem; yet, local decision makers lack a clear and consistent framework for analyzing the costs and benefits of alternative modes of adaptation. This article offers a primer on the economic analysis of three distinct modes of adaptation, with a view to assist planners in determining the best course of action for their respective cities. These responses include (a) physical modifications to the environment through adaptive topography and adaptive infrastructure, (b) modify land uses to locate or relocate vulnerable populations away from flood-prone areas, and (c) concentrate more efforts on clean up and recovery after the fact. Our analysis is designed to help planners determine which of these three adaptive responses to urban flooding are best suited to their own local circumstances.

Author names: 
Heikkila, Eric J.
Huang, Mylinh

Heikkila; Eric J.; Huang, Mylinh, 2014: Adaptation to Flooding in Urban Areas: An Economic Primer. In: Public Works Management & Policy 2014, Vol 19(1) 11– 36.

Geographical area: 
Policy areas considered: 
Climate risks considered: