UC Riverside
Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy

Sustainable water resources management requires a detailed assessment of hydrologic processes in response to natural climate variability, and an understanding of how the largest consumptive user of water in the US, irrigated agriculture, is impacted by and responds to such variability.

Our research intends to improve our understanding of the impacts of climate change on sustainable water management through two extensions to widely used hydro-economic models. First, we provide a more accurate representation of perennial crop production through the formal modeling of the perennial crop as a vintage capital stock with age dependent yields. In representing the dynamic element of perennial crops in a model that allows a wide representation of both annual and perennial crops—as is representative of the real world—an analysis of the role annual crops play in mitigating the impacts of drought is provided, particularly by illustrating the role annuals serve through opportunistic (and low cost) fallowing and the consequences on the groundwater system when such a low-cost mitigation strategy is foregone.

A second extension addresses the scale and sophistication with which groundwater systems are represented in the agricultural economics literature, primarily with a simple lumped-parameter model. Our project intends to link the irrigated agricultural production model to a more sophisticated hydrologic model that includes both surface and groundwater processes.  A comparison of model outcomes between the lumped parameter versus the more sophisticated model will be provided to illustrate the degree to which model outputs (e.g., regional net benefits; groundwater levels) and policy recommendations differ.

UC Water Connection: 

Dr. Schwabe collaborates with Dr. Hoori Ajami on a 2017 UC Water Challenge Grant and brings a wealth of expertise to the team. 


Dr. Schwabe’s research focuses on economic issues associated with water use and reuse, agricultural production, urban water conservation, ecosystem services, and environmental regulation. More recently, his efforts are also focused on investigating the food-energy-water nexus, and the relationship between water policy and health under climate change and drought.  His papers have appeared in wide range of peer-reviewed publications, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, and the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, and is co-editor of two recent books on water titled, Drought in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: A Multi-Disciplinary and Cross-Country Perspective, and The Handbook of Water Economics.

Dr. Schwabe received a BA in Mathematics and Economics at Macalester College, an MS in Economics at Duke University, and a PhD in Economics at the North Carolina State University. He currently is a Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy at the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside, an Adjunct Policy Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, and an Adjunct Professor in the Center for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide in Australia.