Mathematical Sciences and Applications
|Mathematical Sciences Research Challenges for the Next-Generation Electric GridSummary of a Workshop
If the United States is to sustain its economic prosperity, quality of life, and global competitiveness, it must continue to have an abundance of secure, reliable, and affordable energy resources. There have been many improvements in the technology and capability of the electric grid over the past several decades. Many of these advances to the grid depend on complex mathematical algorithms and techniques, and as the complexity of the grid has increased, the analytical demands have also increased.
The workshop summarized in this report was developed as part of an ongoing study of the Committee on Analytical Research Foundations for the Next-Generation Electric Grid. Mathematical Sciences Research Challenges for the Next-Generation Electric Grid summarizes the presentations and discussions from this workshop. This report identifies critical areas of mathematical and computational research that must be addressed for the next-generation electric transmission and distribution system and to identify future needs and ways that current research efforts in these areas could be adjusted or augmented.
|A Community-Based Flood Insurance Option
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River and coastal floods are among the nation's most costly natural disasters. One component in the nation's approach to managing flood risk is availability of flood insurance policies, which are offered on an individual basis primarily through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Established in 1968, the NFIP is overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and there are about 5.4 million individual policies in the NFIP. The program has experienced a mixture of successes and persistent challenges. Successes include a large number of policy holders, the insurance of approximately $1.3 trillion of property, and the fact that the large majority of policy holders - 80% - pay rates that are risk based. NFIP challenges include large program debt, relatively low rates of purchase in many flood-prone areas, a host of issues regarding affordability of premiums, ensuring that premiums collected cover payouts and administrative fees, and a large number of properties that experience severe repetitive flood losses.
At the request of FEMA, A Community-Based Flood Insurance Option identifies a range of key issues and questions that would merit consideration and further analysis as part of a community-based flood insurance program. As the report describes, the community-based option certainly offers potential benefits, such as the prospect of providing coverage for all (or nearly all) at-risk residents and properties in flood-prone communities. At the same time, many current challenges facing the NFIP may not necessarily be resolved by a community-based approach. This report discusses these and other prominent issues to be considered and further assessed.
|The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by IncomeImplications for Federal Programs and Policy Responses
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The U.S. population is aging. Social Security projections suggest that between 2013 and 2050, the population aged 65 and over will almost double, from 45 million to 86 million. One key driver of population aging is ongoing increases in life expectancy. Average U.S. life expectancy was 67 years for males and 73 years for females five decades ago; the averages are now 76 and 81, respectively. It has long been the case that better-educated, higher-income people enjoy longer life expectancies than less-educated, lower-income people. The causes include early life conditions, behavioral factors (such as nutrition, exercise, and smoking behaviors), stress, and access to health care services, all of which can vary across education and income.
Our major entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income – have come to deliver disproportionately larger lifetime benefits to higher-income people because, on average, they are increasingly collecting those benefits over more years than others. This report studies the impact the growing gap in life expectancy has on the present value of lifetime benefits that people with higher or lower earnings will receive from major entitlement programs. The analysis presented in The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income goes beyond an examination of the existing literature by providing the first comprehensive estimates of how lifetime benefits are affected by the changing distribution of life expectancy. The report also explores, from a lifetime benefit perspective, how the growing gap in longevity affects traditional policy analyses of reforms to the nation’s leading entitlement programs. This in-depth analysis of the economic impacts of the longevity gap will inform debate and assist decision makers, economists, and researchers.
|Tying Flood Insurance to Flood Risk for Low-Lying Structures in the Floodplain
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Floods take a heavy toll on society, costing lives, damaging buildings and property, disrupting livelihoods, and sometimes necessitating federal disaster relief, which has risen to record levels in recent years. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created in 1968 to reduce the flood risk to individuals and their reliance on federal disaster relief by making federal flood insurance available to residents and businesses if their community adopted floodplain management ordinances and minimum standards for new construction in flood prone areas. Insurance rates for structures built after a flood plain map was adopted by the community were intended to reflect the actual risk of flooding, taking into account the likelihood of inundation, the elevation of the structure, and the relationship of inundation to damage to the structure. Today, rates are subsidized for one-fifth of the NFIP's 5.5 million policies. Most of these structures are negatively elevated, that is, the elevation of the lowest floor is lower than the NFIP construction standard. Compared to structures built above the base flood elevation, negatively elevated structures are more likely to incur a loss because they are inundated more frequently, and the depths and durations of inundation are greater.
Tying Flood Insurance to Flood Risk for Low-Lying Structures in the Floodplain studies the pricing of negatively elevated structures in the NFIP. This report review current NFIP methods for calculating risk-based premiums for these structures, including risk analysis, flood maps, and engineering data. The report then evaluates alternative approaches for calculating risk-based premiums and discusses engineering hydrologic and property assessment data needs to implement full risk-based premiums. The findings and conclusions of this report will help to improve the accuracy and precision of loss estimates for negatively elevated structures, which in turn will increase the credibility, fairness, and transparency of premiums for policyholders.
|Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program PremiumsReport 1
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The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and offers insurance policies that are marketed and sold through private insurers, but with the risks borne by the U.S. federal government. NFIP's primary goals are to ensure affordable insurance premiums, secure widespread community participation in the program, and earn premium and fee income that covers claims paid and program expenses over time. In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act (Biggert-Waters 2012), designed to move toward an insurance program with NFIP risk-based premiums that better reflected expected losses from floods at insured properties. This eliminated policies priced at what the NFIP called "pre-FIRM subsidized" and "grandfathered." As Biggert-Waters 2012 went into effect, constituents from multiple communities expressed concerns about the elimination of lower rate classes, arguing that it created a financial burden on policy holders. In response to these concerns Congress passed The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA 2014). The 2014 legislation changed the process by which pre-FIRM subsidized premiums for primary residences would be removed and reinstated grandfathering. As part of that legislation, FEMA must report back to Congress with a draft affordability framework.
Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums: Report 1 is the first part of a two-part study to provide input as FEMA prepares their draft affordability framework. This report discusses the underlying definitions and methods for an affordability framework and the affordability concept and applications. Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums gives an overview of the demand for insurance and the history of the NFIP premium setting. The report then describes alternatives for determining when the premium increases resulting from Biggert-Waters 2012 would make flood insurance unaffordable.