Inspired by interdisciplinary collaboration, my research blends theoretical and empirical economic modeling to inform water policy and water management discussions. My current work relates to the changing regulatory structure of groundwater in California, and to the potential for groundwater markets. My research compares the economic impacts of different policy instruments for managing water. I am also looking at the role that water markets can play in adaptation to climate change.


“The Economic Impacts of Agricultural Groundwater Markets.” August 2018. ARE Update 21(6): 9-11. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. (Link)

“California’s New Groundwater Law and the Implications for Groundwater Markets.” March 2017. ARE Update 20(4):1-4. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. (Link)

“Coping with Future Water Woes in the Western United States” July 2015. Eos 96. (Link).

Working Papers

“The Gains from Agricultural Groundwater Trade and the Impacts of Market Power” (with Richard J. Sexton)

Abstract: This paper models and quantifies the efficiency gains from using market-based instruments relative to command and control to manage agricultural groundwater. A theoretical model of imperfectly competitive groundwater trade is developed to show how the magnitude and distribution of the gains from trade change as market structure varies. Market structure is a key consideration because future groundwater markets will likely feature geographic limitations to trade, large agricultural players, and a legal environment that is conducive to forming cartel-like coalitions. Application to a groundwater-dependent agricultural region in southern California shows the existence of large gains from trade, despite the potential for market power. Distributional impacts, however, can be sizable even for small degrees of market power. Simulations that vary market conditions show that results generalize to other groundwater basins.

“Water Markets and Climate Change Adaptation: Micro-level Evidence on Agricultural Water Demand” (with Katrina Jessoe)

Abstract: This paper evaluates the role that well-functioning water markets may play in mitigating the costs of drought. We develop a framework to model the costs of incomplete water regulation, and simulate the efficiency gains from water trading across the agricultural and urban sectors. Critical to this exercise are credible estimates of the price elasticity of demand for agricultural water. We use monthly panel data on well-level agricultural groundwater extraction in an area that charges volumetric rates for groundwater to estimate the elasticity. Demand is inelastic, with estimates ranging from -0.17 to -0.22. Our simulation suggests that water markets may represent a promising adaption strategy to climate change.

Grants & Awards

2018 Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics Grant
“The Economics of Groundwater Quality in California Agriculture”

2017 – 2018 UC Water Challenge Grant
“Sustainable Groundwater in California: Managing Water Use with Economic Instruments” (with Katrina K. Jessoe, Richard J. Sexton, and W. Michael Hanemann)

2017 Award for Most Downloads of an Article in the 2016-2017 Issue of ARE Update

2017 Outstanding Graduate Paper Award, Western Agricultural Economics Association

2017 Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics Grant
“Managing Agricultural Water Use for Sustainable Groundwater in California” (with Katrina K. Jessoe and Richard J. Sexton)

2017 Giannini Foundation Agricultural Economics Graduate Student Fellowship

2014 – 2016 National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education & Research Traineeship in Climate Change, Water, and Society

2013 Joel Dean Award for Excellence in Management Science, UC San Diego

Photograph of rice fields by Olena Sambucci.