Date of Award:

Summer 2017

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Economics and Finance

Advisor/Chair:

Ryan Yonk

Abstract

In conducting this research, I wanted to explore whether political incentives have a significant effect on wildfire management in the United States. I attempt to answer this question by proving a theoretical justification for why wildfires may become more expensive to fight and severe to manage because of political institutions. I then attempt to provide some hard evidence to support this theory by using regression analysis. My analysis suggests that political factors do matter for wildfire suppression funding, although I was unable to find strong enough evidence to suggest that these political factors are actually driving more severe wildfires. This research contributes to the literature on public choice theory, a branch of political economy that looks at government from the individual decision makers’ level. Additionally, this research contributes to the literature on what affects wildfire suppression effectiveness and funding. This research may contribute to future analyses of the institutions that make U.S. wildland firefighters more or less capable of effectively managing wildfires to protect human lives, property, and forests.

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