"Do perverse insurance incentives encourage coastal vulnerability?" Natural Hazards Review, 2022. With Debra Javeline & Tracy Kijewski-Correa.


Abstract: Subsidized insurance is often described as a perverse incentive, moral hazard, or maladaptation that perpetuates coastal residency in vulnerable homes despite increasing safety and economic risks from hurricanes, sea level rise, and other climate change impacts.  Insurance is also often described as a positive factor in coastal risk reduction, if insurers proactively reward homeowners for upgrades that mitigate losses from hurricanes. The empirical and policy-relevant question remains whether homeowners perceive insurance incentives as perverse or positive.  A new survey of 662 North Carolina coastal homeowners shows that most are failing to upgrade their homes to address hurricane risk or plan for coastal retreat but not because they expect insurance to cover losses. Rather, those aware of insurance incentives are more likely to live in better protected residences and take the incentivized actions. Limited awareness of existing policies suggests a need for greater outreach by policymakers, lenders, and insurers. 

"Does it matter if you “believe” in climate change? Not for coastal home vulnerability." Climatic Change, 2019. With Debra Javeline & Tracy Kijewski-Correa.

Winner of the 2019 STEP-APSA Paul A. Sabatier Award

Abstract: Public attitudes toward climate change are the subject of considerable study. An essential and understudied question is whether these attitudes influence public behavior. We answer this question with respect to a particular behavior, action to protect coastal homes from the increasing risk of hurricanes and rising seas. Coastal homeowner behavior is critically important because homeowner risk reduction in most cases is not mandated by government regulations or insurance requirements and instead largely reflects individual voluntary decisions. Analyzing novel data from the 2017 Coastal Homeowner Survey of 662 respondents in one of the most frequently exposed US coastal communities, New Hanover County, North Carolina, we find that climate change knowledge and attitudes have no significant effect on the existing level of a home’s structural vulnerability nor on homeowner actions or stated intentions to reduce structural vulnerability in the future. We discuss the implications for efforts by governments, insurance companies, and other stakeholders advocating for coastal resiliency. 

"Environmental displacement and political instability" (Revise & resubmit)
Winner of the 2020 Environmental Peacebuilding Association Best Paper Award (honorable mention)

Abstract: Does environmental displacement provoke political instability? Though migration has long been alluded to as an intermediary in the causal path between environmental change and political upheaval, the relationship remains theoretically underdeveloped and evidence has been limited. This article examines the impact of displacement caused by sudden-onset natural hazards on disruptive anti-government events including armed conflict, violent riots, and demonstrations. Two mechanisms linking environmental dis- placement and political conflict are developed and tested. Displacement is expected to deteriorate living conditions in host communities, fueling state-based grievances that incite anti-government political dissent. In addition, environmental displacement is expected to intensify ongoing armed conflict by creating new opportunities and incentives for armed groups to increase violent campaigns against the government at a lower cost and risk. To test these claims, this article leverages an original dataset that identifies quantities of human movement in response to six types of sudden-onset natural hazards in Africa from 1990 to 2017, including floods, storms, wildfires, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. The results show that displacement caused by sudden-onset nat- ural hazards incites political instability by increasing the incidence of anti-government violent riots and armed attacks by non-state actors.

"Is democracy the answer to intractable climate change?" With Debra Javeline, Kimberly Peh, & Shana Scogin.

Abstract: Climate change is the greatest governance challenge humanity has ever faced. Understanding why some governments successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions and others fail is thus imperative. While regime type is often hypothesized to be a source of variation in greenhouse gas emissions, empirical findings about the effects of democracy and autocracy on climate action are contradictory. This article reconciles these inconsistencies and adopts a quasi-experimental approach to investigate the relationship between democratization and greenhouse gas emissions. A fixed effects model with a synthetic control estimator is used to construct appropriate counterfactuals and evaluate the effect of regime type on emissions with data from the World Bank and Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. The analysis shows that movement towards democracy does not have a significant effect on emissions, suggesting that research on the politics of emissions reduction should focus on factors other than regime type.