Public Preferences for Disaster Federalism: Comparing Public Risk Management Preferences Across Levels of Government and Hazards

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Despite a general lack of political knowledge among the public, research demonstrates that individuals intuitively know which level of government should be, and sometimes is, responsible for policy problems. In this article, we look at public federalism preferences in the context of disaster management, particularly for managing the risks associated with three different types of hazards—specifically global warming, earthquakes, and wildfires—and examine if their preferences are aligned with the division of responsibility in disaster management. Using survey data from Oklahoma, we find that individuals appropriately match their preferences to the intergovernmental nature of disaster federalism in the United States. Additionally, knowing the causes of these hazards is strongly associated with a preference for the appropriate, to disaster scope and scale, level of government. Finally, using seemingly unrelated regression techniques, we find that many, but not all, relationships are hazard general while some are hazard specific.