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James R. Meldrum, Patricia A. Champ, Hannah Brenkert-Smith, Christopher M. Barth, Abby E. McConnell, Carolyn Wagner, Colleen Donovan
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Fire Effects
Fire & Economics

NRFSN number: 26225
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Public agencies and organizations often deliver financial assistance through cost sharing, in which recipients contribute some portion toward total costs. However, cost sharing might raise equity concerns if it reduces participation among populations with lower incomes. Here, we revisit a past study using a richer dataset (n=1,689) to assess whether stated income levels affect survey respondents’ willingness to participate in a cost share program for vegetation reduction to mitigate wildfire risk in western Colorado. Results show that residents with lower incomes are less likely to participate even though they can choose to contribute 0% toward a cost share. Residents reporting incomes less than $50,000 are 11 percentage points less likely to participate than those reporting incomes of $200,000 or more. They also are willing to pay a lower share (26 percentage points less) if they do participate. Results indicate potential economic equity concerns from the use of such programs.


Meldrum JR, Champ PA, Brenkert-Smith H, Barth CM, McConnell AE, Wagner C, and Donovan C. 2024. Rethinking cost-share programs in consideration of economic equity: A case study of wildfire risk mitigation assistance for private landowners. Ecological Economics. 216: 108041.

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