Working Paper: Satellites, self- reports, and submersion, Exposure to floods in Bangladesh
Exposure to abnormal floods is believed to have negative short- and long-term consequences for welfare and health in poor countries, and such impacts are likely to grow worse with continued anthropogenic climate change. However, two common proxies for flood exposure, self-reported exposure and rainfall, are problematic. This paper describes a method for constructing objective measures of flood exposure using satellite data. Using the case of Bangladesh in the period 2002-2011, we show that (a) self-reported exposure has an important, non-random bias in that it responds much more strongly to actual exposure in areas where floods are relatively rare, and (b) rainfall is at best weakly correlated with floods.