Overall decline of global burned area paradoxically hides a number of economic realities that have increased the likelihood and costs of wildfire-caused disasters. In this critical review, we address the pressing need to identify and incorporate economic elements shaping global wildfire activities. To synthesize our current understanding of economic drivers of wildfires, we leverage the DPSIR framework to structure the issues related to wildfires to establish coherent causal pathways between Drivers (D), Pressures (P), States (S), Impacts (I) and Responses (R). We identified global patterns of worsening wildfire risks with the double-exposure to globalization and climate change. Current developments call for a paradigm shift in how we understand and manage wildfires to promote an adaptation-mitigation-resilience strategy. We propose expanding the science-policy interface to global scale with new indicators for assessing and communicating the impacts of global economic drivers on wildfire activities, such as “Virtual wildfire trade” accounting to monitor delocalized fire activity—exported fires and land transformation from developed to developing regions with weak governance. We also identified the areas where research is lacking, highlighting future research areas in wildfire economics to advance effective, efficient, and equitable global governance of wildfires.