Walter Falcon is deputy director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment, former director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and Farnsworth professor of International Agricultural Policy and Economics at Stanford University (Emeritus).

In 1972, Falcon moved from Harvard University to Stanford University's Food Research Institute where he served as professor of economics and director until 1991. From 1991-1998, he directed the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and from 1998-2007 he co-directed the Center for Environmental Science and Policy. He has also served as senior associate dean for the social sciences, a member of the academic senate, and twice a member of the University's Advisory Board.

Falcon has consulted with numerous international organizations, and has been a trustee of Winrock International and chairman of the board of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Center for Wheat and Maize Improvement (CIMMYT). Falcon became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1991. Falcon was cited as the outstanding 1958 graduate of Iowa State University in 1989 and in 1992 he was awarded the prestigious Bintang Jasa Utama medal of merit by the government of Indonesia for twenty-five years of assistance with that country's development effort. His recent co-authored papers have analyzed the effects of El Nino on Asian agriculture; Mexican agricultural policy; food price volatility; and biofuels.

Falcon received a BS in Agricultural Economics at Iowa State University in 1958, an MA in Economics at Harvard University in 1960, and a PhD in Economics from Harvard University in 1962.

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • (Honorary) Doctor of Science, McGill University (2009)
  • Bintang Jasa Utama (First Star) Medal of Merit, Government of Indonesia (1992)
  • Research Award, Ecological Society of America (2013)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1991)
  • Fellow, American Agricultural Economics Associations (1990)
  • Distinguished Achievement Citation, Iowa State University (1989)
  • Research Awards, American Agricultural Economics Associations (1971 & 1984)

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Harvard University, Economics (1962)
  • A.M., Harvard University, Economics (1960)
  • B.S., Iowa State University, Agricultural Economics (1958)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

biotechnology; food security; food and agricultural policy in developing countries

2022-23 Courses

All Publications

  • Decentralization and the environment: Assessing smallholder oil palm development in Indonesia Ambio Naylor, R. L., Higgins, M. M., Edwards, R. B., Falcon, W. P. 2019: 1195–1208


    Indonesia's oil palm expansion during the last two decades has resulted in widespread environmental and health damages through land clearing by fire and peat conversion, but it has also contributed to rural poverty alleviation. In this paper, we examine the role that decentralization has played in the process of Indonesia's oil palm development, particularly among independent smallholder producers. We use primary survey information, along with government documents and statistics, to analyze the institutional dynamics underpinning the sector's impacts on economic development and the environment. Our analysis focuses on revenue-sharing agreements between district and central governments, district splitting, land title authority, and accountability at individual levels of government. We then assess the role of Indonesia's Village Law of 2014 in promoting rural development and land clearing by fire. We conclude that both environmental conditionality and positive financial incentives are needed within the Village Law to enhance rural development while minimizing environmental damages.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s13280-018-1135-7

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6722158

  • Field Notes from an Iowa Farm Farming Magazine Falcon , W. P. 2012; 12 (17)
  • The Global Costs of American Ethanol The American Interest Falcon, W. P., Naylor , R. L. 2011; 7 (2): 66-76
  • Food Security in an Era of Economic Volatility POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P. 2010; 36 (4): 693-?


    This article analyzes international commodity price movements, assesses food policies in response to price fluctuations, and explores the food security implications of price volatility on low-income groups. It focuses specifically on measurements, causes, and consequences of recent food price trends, variability around those trends, and price spikes. Combining these three components of price dynamics shows that the variation in real prices post-2000 was substantially greater than that in the 1980s and 1990s, and was approximately equal to the extreme volatility in commodity prices that was experienced in the 1970s. Macro policy, exchange rates, and petroleum prices were important determinants of price variability over 2005–2010, highlighting the new linkages between the agriculture-energy and agriculture-finance markets that affect the world food economy today. These linkages contributed in large part to misguided expectations and uncertainty that drove prices to their peak in 2008. The article also argues that there is a long-lasting effect of price spikes on food policy around the world, often resulting in self-sufficiency policies that create even more volatility in international markets. The efforts by governments to stabilize prices frequently contribute to even greater food insecurity among poor households, most of which are in rural areas and survive on the margin of net consumption and net production. Events of 2008—and more recently in 2010—underscore the impact of price variability for food security and the need for refocused policy approaches to prevent and mitigate price spikes.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2010.00354.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285359600002

    View details for PubMedID 21174866

  • Impacts of El Nino-Southern Oscillation events on China's rice production JOURNAL OF GEOGRAPHICAL SCIENCES Deng Xiangzheng, X. Z., Huang Jikun, J. K., Qiao Fangbin, F. B., Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P., Burke, M., Rozelle, S., Battisti, D. 2010; 20 (1): 3-16
  • El Nino-Southern Oscillation Impacts on Rice Production in Luzon, the Philippines JOURNAL OF APPLIED METEOROLOGY AND CLIMATOLOGY Roberts, M. G., Dawe, D., Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L. 2009; 48 (8): 1718-1724
  • Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030 SCIENCE Lobell, D. B., Burke, M. B., Tebaldi, C., Mastrandrea, M. D., Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L. 2008; 319 (5863): 607-610


    Investments aimed at improving agricultural adaptation to climate change inevitably favor some crops and regions over others. An analysis of climate risks for crops in 12 food-insecure regions was conducted to identify adaptation priorities, based on statistical crop models and climate projections for 2030 from 20 general circulation models. Results indicate South Asia and Southern Africa as two regions that, without sufficient adaptation measures, will likely suffer negative impacts on several crops that are important to large food-insecure human populations. We also find that uncertainties vary widely by crop, and therefore priorities will depend on the risk attitudes of investment institutions.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1152339

    View details for Web of Science ID 000252772000037

    View details for PubMedID 18239122

  • The Asian Maize Economy in 2025 Falcon , W. P. 2008
  • Our Daily Bread Boston Review Naylor, R. L., Falcon , W. P. 2008 : 13-18
  • International trade in meat: The tip of the pork chop AMBIO Galloway, J. N., Burke, M., Bradford, G. E., Naylor, R., Falcon, W., Chapagain, A. K., Gaskell, J. C., McCullough, E., Mooney, H. A., Oleson, K. L., Steinfeld, H., Wassenaar, T., Smil, V. 2007; 36 (8): 622-629


    This paper provides an original account of global land, water, and nitrogen use in support of industrialized livestock production and trade, with emphasis on two of the fastest-growing sectors, pork and poultry. Our analysis focuses on trade in feed and animal products, using a new model that calculates the amount of "virtual" nitrogen, water, and land used in production but not embedded in the product. We show how key meat-importing countries, such as Japan, benefit from "virtual" trade in land, water, and nitrogen, and how key meat-exporting countries, such as Brazil, provide these resources without accounting for their true environmental cost. Results show that Japan's pig and chicken meat imports embody the virtual equivalent of 50% of Japan's total arable land, and half of Japan's virtual nitrogen total is lost in the US. Trade links with China are responsible for 15% of the virtual nitrogen left behind in Brazil due to feed and meat exports, and 20% of Brazil's area is used to grow soybean exports. The complexity of trade in meat, feed, water, and nitrogen is illustrated by the dual roles of the US and The Netherlands as both importers and exporters of meat. Mitigation of environmental damage from industrialized livestock production and trade depends on a combination of direct-pricing strategies, regulatory approaches, and use of best management practices. Our analysis indicates that increased water- and nitrogen-use efficiency and land conservation resulting from these measures could significantly reduce resource costs.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000251979900002

    View details for PubMedID 18240675

  • The ripple effect: Biofuels, food security, and the environment ENVIRONMENT Naylor, R. L., Liska, A. J., Burke, M. B., Falcon, W. P., Gaskell, J. C., Rozelle, S. D., Cassman, K. G. 2007; 49 (9): 30-43
  • Assessing risks of climate variability and climate change for Indonesian rice agriculture PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Naylor, R. L., Battisti, D. S., Vimont, D. J., Falcon, W. P., Burke, M. B. 2007; 104 (19): 7752-7757


    El Niño events typically lead to delayed rainfall and decreased rice planting in Indonesia's main rice-growing regions, thus prolonging the hungry season and increasing the risk of annual rice deficits. Here we use a risk assessment framework to examine the potential impact of El Niño events and natural variability on rice agriculture in 2050 under conditions of climate change, with a focus on two main rice-producing areas: Java and Bali. We select a 30-day delay in monsoon onset as a threshold beyond which significant impact on the country's rice economy is likely to occur. To project the future probability of monsoon delay and changes in the annual cycle of rainfall, we use output from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR4 suite of climate models, forced by increasing greenhouse gases, and scale it to the regional level by using empirical downscaling models. Our results reveal a marked increase in the probability of a 30-day delay in monsoon onset in 2050, as a result of changes in the mean climate, from 9-18% today (depending on the region) to 30-40% at the upper tail of the distribution. Predictions of the annual cycle of precipitation suggest an increase in precipitation later in the crop year (April-June) of approximately 10% but a substantial decrease (up to 75% at the tail) in precipitation later in the dry season (July-September). These results indicate a need for adaptation strategies in Indonesian rice agriculture, including increased investments in water storage, drought-tolerant crops, crop diversification, and early warning systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0701825104

    View details for Web of Science ID 000246461500007

    View details for PubMedID 17483453

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC1876519

  • Yield uncertainty at the field scale evaluated with multi-year satellite data AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Falcon, W. P. 2007; 92 (1-3): 76-90
  • Agriculture. Losing the links between livestock and land. Science Naylor, R., Steinfeld, H., Falcon, W., Galloway, J., Smil, V., Bradford, E., Alder, J., Mooney, H. 2005; 310 (5754): 1621-1622

    View details for PubMedID 16339432

  • Professor Dr Saleh Afiff: An appreciation BULLETIN OF INDONESIAN ECONOMIC STUDIES Timmer, C. P., Falcon, W. P. 2005; 41 (3): 305-307
  • Analysis of wheat yield and climatic trends in Mexico FIELD CROPS RESEARCH Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Asner, G. P., Matson, P. A., Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P. 2005; 94 (2-3): 250-256
  • Combining field surveys, remote sensing, and regression trees to understand yield variations in an irrigated wheat landscape AGRONOMY JOURNAL Lobell, D. B., Ortiz-Monasterio, J. I., Asner, G. P., Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P. 2005; 97 (1): 241-249
  • Rethinking food security for the twenty-first century AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L. 2005; 87 (5): 1113-1127
  • Using climate models to improve Indonesian food security BULLETIN OF INDONESIAN ECONOMIC STUDIES Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L., Smith, W. L., Burke, M. B., McCullough, E. B. 2004; 40 (3): 355-377
  • Biotechnology in the developing world: a case for increased investments in orphan crops 6th International Conference of the International-Consortium-on-Agricultural-Biotechnology-Research Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P., Goodman, R. M., Jahn, M. M., Sengooba, T., Tefera, H., Nelson, R. J. ELSEVIER SCI LTD. 2004: 15–44
  • Using forecasts from national and regional El Nino/Souther oscillation (ENSO) models to improve indonesia food security Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L., Smith , W. L. 2003; 38 (1)
  • Carving up the commons - emergence of a new international regime for germplasm development and transfer FOOD POLICY Falcon, W. P., Fowler, C. 2002; 27 (3): 197-222
  • Using El Nino - Southern oscillation climate data to improve food policy planning in Indonesia BULLETIN OF INDONESIAN ECONOMIC STUDIES Naylor, R., Falcon, W., Wada, N., Rochberg, D. 2002; 38 (1): 75-91
  • Using El Nino/Southern Oscillation climate data to improve food policy planning in Indonesia Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P., Wada, N., Rochberg , D. 2002; 38 (1)
  • Using El Nino/Southern oscillation climate data to predict rice production in Indonesia CLIMATIC CHANGE Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P., Rochberg, D., Wada, N. 2001; 50 (3): 255-265
  • Comments: Searching for sustainability ECOLOGY LAW QUARTERLY Falcon, W. P. 2001; 27 (4): 1163-1174
  • Using El Nino/Southern Oscillation Climate Data to Predict Rice Production in Indonesia Climate Change Naylor, R. L., Falcon , W. P., Rochberg , D., Wada , N. 2001; 50: 255-265
  • The maize transition in Asia: Unlocking the controversy Annual Meeting of the American-Agricultural-Economics-Association Falcon, W. P., Naylor, R. L. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC. 1998: 960–68
  • Variability and growth in grain yields, 1950-94: Does the record point to greater instability? POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT REVIEW Naylor, R., Falcon, W., Zavaleta, E. 1997; 23 (1): 41-?
  • Herbicide Strategies for Asian Rice Systems Herbicides in Asian Rice: Transitions in Weed Management Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P., Kennedy , D. International Rice Research Institute Publications. 1997
  • Developing a Weed Management Strategy for Asian Rice Production Herbicides in Asian Rice: Transitions in Weed Management Kennedy, D., Naylor, R. L., Falcon , W. P. Stanford University Institute for International Studies and International Rice Research Institute. 1996
  • Developing a Weed Management Strategy for Asian Rice Production Herbicides in Asian Rice: Transitions in Weed Management Kennedy , D., Naylor, R. L., Falcon , W. P. Stanford University Institute for International Studies and International Rice Research Institute . 1996
  • Is the locus of poverty changing? FOOD POLICY Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P. 1995; 20 (6): 501-518
  • Whither Food Aid:A Comment Agriculture and the State Timmer, C. P., Falcon, W. P. Cornell University Press. 1991: 237–46
  • Recent Policy Influences on Rice Production Rice Policies in Indonesia Naylor, R. L., Falcon, W. P., Pearson , S. Cornell University Press . 1991
  • Food Security in Indonesia: Dedfining the Issues Indonesian Food Journal Falcon , W. P., Timmer , C. P. 1991; II (3)
  • Rice Policy in Indonesia Falcon, W. P., Pearson , S. Cornell University Press. 1991
  • Corn Economy of Indonesia, The The Corn Economy of Indonesia Falcon, W. P., Dorosh, P. Cornell University Press. 1987
  • World Food and Hunger Problem: Changing Perspectives and Possibilities, 1974-1984, The Food Policy: Integrating Supply, Distribution, and Consumptio Falcon , W. P. The World Bank . 1987
  • Discussion: Achievements and Challegnes: Policy Environmental Issues CIMMYT, The Future Development of Maize and Wheat in the Third World Falcon , W. P. 1987
  • Food for a Developing World Resources and World Development Falcon, W. P., Dorfman, R. Wiley. 1987
  • Rice Policy in Indonesia, 1985-1990: The Problem of Success Falcon , W. P. BULOG. 1985
  • Review: E.O. Heady and L.G. Tweeten's, Resource Demand and Structure of Agricultural American Economic Review Falcon , W. P. 1984
  • Role of the United States in Alleviating World Hunger, The Agricultural Development in the Third World Falcon , W. P. Johns Hopkins Press. 1984
  • Food Policy Analysis Falcon, W. P., Timmer, C. P., Pearson , S. R. Johns Hopkins Press . 1983
  • World Food Economy: Recent Lessons for the United States and Mexico, The U.S.-Mexico Relations: Economic and Social Aspects Falcon , W. P. Stanford University Press. 1983
  • Economic Dimensions of International Development Social, Cultural, Economic and Political Dimensions of International Agricultural Development Falcon , W. P. Lincoln Press. 1982
  • Experiment in Rural Development, An The Indonesia Economy Falcon, W. P., Patten, R., Dapice, B. Praeger. 1980
  • Elements of a Food and Nutrition Policy in Indonesia The Indonesia Economy Falcon, W. P., Afiff, S., Timmer , C. P. Praeger. 1980
  • International Trade in Rice Food Rearch Institute Studies Falcon, W. P., Monke , E. 1980; XVIII (3)
  • Asia, Kids, Calories and Poverty Agenda Falcon , W. P. 1979
  • Energy and Agriculture in Developing Countries Land Management Issues and Development Strategies in Developing Countries Falcon, W. P., Dosik , R. S. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. 1979
  • Perspective on China's Food Policy, A CERES, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Falcon , W. P., Timmer, C. P., Nelson , G. C. 1979; 12,2,3,4
  • Transforming Knowledge into Food: Recent Lessons from Asia Transforming Knowledge into Food in the Worldwide Context Falcon , W. P. The Miller Publishing Company. 1978
  • Political Economy of Rice Production and Trade in Asia, The Agriculture in Development Theory Falcon , W. P., Timmern , C. P. Yale University Press. 1975
  • Impact of Price on Rice Trade in Asia, The Agriculture, Trade, and Development Falcon , W. P., Timmern , C. P. Ballinger Books . 1975
  • Green Revolution and the Economics of Punjab, The Food Research Institute Studies Falcon , W. P., Gotsch , C. H. 1975; XIV (1)
  • Lessons and Issues in Taiwan's Development Agriculture's Place in the Strategy of Development Falcon , W. P. Joint Commission Rural Reconstruction. 1974
  • Key Issues in Taiwan's Agricultural Development Industry of Free China Falcon , W. P. 1974; XXXXI (4)
  • Relative Price Response, Economic Efficiency and Technological Change: A Study of Punjab Agriculture Development Policy II - The Pakistan Experience Falcon , W. P., Gotsch , C. H. Harvard University Press . 1971
  • Cigarette Smoking and the Tobacco Farmer Public Policy Falcon, W. P., Mann, C. K. 1970
  • Green Revolution: Generations of Problems, The American Journal of Agricultural Economics Falcon , W. P. 1970
  • Lessons in Agricultural Development - Pakistan Development Policy - Theory and Practice Falcon , W. P., Gotsch , C. H. Harvard University Press. 1968
  • Paths of Rural Change: Two Approaches with the Same Results Asian Reivew Falcon , W. P., Gotsch , C. H. 1968; 1 (4)
  • Agricultural Policy and Performance in the Punjab: A Comparative Study of India and Pakistan Asian Review Falcon, W. P., Gotsch , C. H. 1968
  • Agricultural and Industrial Interrelationships in West Pakistan Journal of Farm Economics Falcon , W. P. 1967
  • Programming Models for the Planning of the Agricultural Sector The Theory and Design of Economic Development Falcon , W. P. Johns Hopkins University Press. 1966
  • Agricultural Development Policites Journal of Farm Economics Falcon , W. P. 1966
  • Farmer Response to Price in a Subsistence Economy: The Case of West Pakistan American Economic Review Falcon , W. P. 1964
  • Some Comments on the Real Effects of Foreign Surplus Disposal in Underdeveloped Economies Quarterly Journal of Economics Falcon , W. P. 1963