Targeting Policy to Promote Defensible Space in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Evidence from Homeowners in Nevada

Michael H. Taylor, Laine Christman and Kimberly Rollins


This article considers how the appropriate policy to promote defensible space should differ between wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities by analyzing the extent that the two prominent explanations for socially inefficient underinvestment in defensible space hold in 35 WUI communities in Nevada. We find that homeowners underinvest in defensible space due to externalities in communities whose predominant vegetation is associated with elevated wildfire hazard. We do not find evidence that homeowners are underinvesting in defensible space because they systematically misjudge the biophysical determinants of their wildfire risk or the efficacy of defensible space at reducing their wildfire risk. (JEL D81, Q54)

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