Philip J. Cook

ITT/Terry Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy Studies

External Address: 
218 Rubenstein Hall, Box 90312, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90312, Durham, NC 27708-0245
(919) 613-7360

Philip J. Cook is ITT/Sanford Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics and Sociology at Duke University. He served as director and chair of Duke’s Sanford Institute of Public Policy from 1985-89, and again from 1997-99. Cook is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an honorary Fellow in the American Society of Criminology. In 2001 he was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Cook joined the Duke faculty in 1973 after earning his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice (Criminal Division) and to the U.S. Department of Treasury (Enforcement Division). He has served in a variety of capacities with the National Academy of Sciences, including membership on expert panels dealing with alcohol-abuse prevention, violence, school shootings, underage drinking, the deterrent effect of the death penalty, and proactive policing. He served as vice chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Law and Justice. Cook's primary focus at the moment is the economics of crime. He is co-director of the NBER Work Group on the Economics of Crime, and co-editor of a NBER volume on crime prevention. Much of his recent research has dealt with the private role in crime prevention. He also has several projects under way in the area of truancy prevention. Over much of his career, one strand of Cook’s research concerns the prevention of alcohol-related problems through restrictions on alcohol availability. An early article was the first to demonstrate persuasively that alcohol taxes have a direct effect on the death rate of heavy drinkers, and subsequent research demonstrated the moderate efficacy of minimum-purchase-age laws in preventing fatal crashes. Together with Michael J. Moore, he focused on the effects of beer taxes on youthful drinking and the consequences thereof, finding that more restrictive policies result in lower rates of abuse, higher college graduation rates and lower crime rates. His book on the subject is Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, (Princeton University Press, 2007; 2016 in paper). A second strand has concerned the costs and consequences of the widespread availability of guns, and what might be done about it. His book (with Jens Ludwig), Gun Violence: The Real Costs (Oxford University Press, 2000), develops and applies a framework for assessing costs that is grounded in economic theory and is quite at odds with the traditional “Cost of Injury” framework. His new book with Kristin A. Goss, The Gun Debate (Oxford University Press 2014) is intended for a general audience seeking an objective assessment of the myriad relevant issues.  He is currently heading up a multi-city investigation of the underground gun market, one product of which is a symposium to be published by the RSF Journal in 2017. Cook has also co-authored two other books: with Charles Clotfelter on state lotteries (Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America, Harvard University Press, 1989), and with Robert H. Frank on the causes and consequences of the growing inequality of earnings (The Winner-Take-All Society, The Free Press, 1995). The Winner-Take-All Society was named a “Notable Book of the Year, 1995” by the New York Times Book Review.  It has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Polish, and Korean.


  • Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley 1973

Cook, PJ, Rivera-Aguirre, AE, Cerdá, M, and Wintemute, G. "Constant Lethality of Gunshot Injuries From Firearm Assault: United States, 2003-2012." American journal of public health 107, no. 8 (August 2017): 1324-1328. Full Text

Cook, PJ. "At Last, a Good Estimate of the Magnitude of the Private-Sale Loophole for Firearms." Annals of internal medicine 166, no. 4 (February 2017): 301-302. Full Text

Cook, PJ. "Deadly force." Science (New York, N.Y.) 355, no. 6327 (February 2017): 803-. Full Text

Cook, PJ. "Behavioral Science Critique of HOPE." Criminology & Public Policy 15, no. 4 (November 2016): 1155-1161. Full Text

Cook, PJ, and Kang, S. "Birthdays, Schooling, and Crime: Regression-Discontinuity Analysis of School Performance, Delinquency, Dropout, and Crime Initiation." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 8, no. 1 (January 2016): 33-57. Full Text

Webster, DW, Cerdá, M, Wintemute, GJ, and Cook, PJ. "Epidemiologic Evidence to Guide the Understanding and Prevention of Gun Violence." Epidemiologic reviews 38, no. 1 (January 2016): 1-4. Full Text

Cook, PJ. "Will the Current Crisis in Police Legitimacy Increase Crime? Research Offers a Way Forward." Psychological science in the public interest : a journal of the American Psychological Society 16, no. 3 (December 2015): 71-74. Full Text

Cook, PJ, Parker, ST, and Pollack, HA. "Sources of guns to dangerous people: what we learn by asking them." Preventive medicine 79 (October 2015): 28-36. Full Text

Cook, PJ, Kang, S, Braga, AA, Ludwig, J, and O’Brien, ME. "An Experimental Evaluation of a Comprehensive Employment-Oriented Prisoner Re-entry Program." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 31, no. 3 (September 2015): 355-382. Full Text

Cook, PJ, Harris, RJ, Ludwig, J, and Pollack, HA. "Some sources of crime guns in Chicago: Dirty dealers, straw purchasers, and traffickers." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 104, no. 4 (January 1, 2015): 717-760.


Cook, PJ, and Goss, KA. The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cook, PJ, Machin, S, Marie, O, and Mastrobuoni, G. Lessons from the Economics of Crime: What Reduces Offending?. MIT Press, 2013.

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. Gun Violence: The Real Costs. March 22, 2012. Full Text

Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs. Edited by PJ Cook, J Ludwig, and J McCrary. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Frank, RH, and Cook, PJ. The Winner-Take-All Society. Virgin Books, 2010.

Cook, PJ. Paying the Tab: The Economics of Alcohol Policy. Princeton University Press, 2007.

Evaluating Gun Policy. Edited by J Ludwig and PJ Cook. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. Guns in America results of a comprehensive national survey on firearms ownership and use. Washington, DC: The Police Foundation, January 1996.

Cook, PJ. Kids, Guns and Public Policy. Edited by PJ Cook. 1996.

Frank, RH, and Cook, PJ. The Winner-Take-All Society. New York: The Free Press, 1995.


Cook, PJ. "The Economics of Crime: An introduction to rational crime analysis by Harold Winter." Journal of Economic Literature 47 (September 2009).

Cook, PJ. "Can Gun Control Work? by James B. Jacobs." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 23 (1), no. Winter (2004): 198-201.

Cook, PJ. "Drug War Heresies by Robert J. MacCoun and Peter Reuter." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 21 (2), no. Spring (2002): 303-306.

Cook, PJ. "What Price Fame? by Tyler Cowen." Journal of Economic Literature (September 2001): 933-935.

Cook, PJ. "Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America by Gary Kleck." The New England journal of medicine (February 3, 1994).

Cook, PJ. "Confronting Drunk Driving: Social Policy for Saving Lives by H. Lawrence Ross." Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 18 (1), no. Spring (1993): 235-237.


Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. "The limited impact of the brady act: Evaluation and implications." In Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, 21-32. January 1, 2013.

Swanson, JW, Robertson, AG, Frisman, LK, Norko, MA, Lin, HJ, Swartz, MS, and Cook, PJ. "Preventing gun violence involving people with serious mental illness." In Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, 33-51. January 1, 2013.

Cook, PJ, Machin, S, Marie, O, and Mastrobuoni, G. "Crime economics in its fifth decade." In Lessons from the Economics of Crime: What Reduces Offending?. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. (Chapter)

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. "Firearm Violence." In The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Public Policy. September 18, 2012. Full Text

Cook, PJ. "Robbery." In The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Public Policy. September 18, 2012. Full Text

Gottfredson, DC, Cook, PJ, and Na, C. "Schools and Prevention." In The Oxford Handbook of Crime Prevention. March 12, 2012. Full Text

Gottfredson, D, Cook, PJ, and Na, C. "School-based crime prevention." In The Oxford Handbook of Crime Prevention,edited by BC Walsh and DP Farrington, 269-2897. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. (Chapter)

Cook, PJ. "Foreword." Ix-Xii. January 1, 2012. Full Text

Clotfelter, CT, and Cook, PJ. "Lotteries in the Real World." In The Economics Of Gambling And National Lotteries,edited by LV Williams. Edgar Elgar Publishers, 2012. (Chapter)


., . "Kids, Guns, and Public Policy." Edited by PJ Cook. Law and contemporary problems 59, no. 1 (1996). (Journal issue)

., . "Vice." Edited by PJ Cook. Law and Contemporary Problems (1988). (Journal issue)

., . "Valuing Lives: When and How Should Society Spend its Scarce Resources to Decrease Mortality." Edited by PJ Cook and JW Vaupel. Law and contemporary problems (1976). (Journal issue)

Cook, PJ, and Leitzel, JA. "Gun Control."

Cook, PJ, Machin, S, Marie, O, and Mastrobuoni, G. "Crime Economics in Its Fifth Decade." 2013.

., . "Explaining the growth in the prison population." Wiley: 24 months, February 2009.

Cook, PJ. "Crime CRIME IN THE CITY." 2009.

Cook, PJ. "The Social Costs of Drinking." The Expert Meeting on the Negative Social Consequences of Alcohol Abuse. Oslo, Norway: Norewegian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, 1991.

Clotfelter, C, Cook, and Philip J., . "What if the Lottery were Run for Lottery Players?." (March 1, 2007). Open Access Copy

Cook, PJ. "How we can reduce gun violence?." Chronicle of Higher Education (January 8, 2013). (Editorial Comment)

Cook, PJ. "Gun Point." Times of India - Education Times (December 24, 2012). (Editorial Comment)

Cook, PJ. "Craig Whitney's Living With Guns." New York Times (August 26, 2012). (Editorial Comment)

Cook, PJ. "Commentary: Evidence from a high-income country." Addiction (2012). (Scholarly Commentary)

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. "More prisoners vs. more crime is the wrong question." Brookings Policy Brief (December 2011). (Scholarly Commentary)

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. "How to cut gun death toll." (January 12, 2011). (Editorial Comment)

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. "Five myths about gun control." Washington Post (June 13, 2010). (Editorial Comment)

Cook, PJ, and Ludwig, J. "Will wider availability of guns improve public safety? No." CQ Researcher (October 31, 2008). (Editorial Comment)

Cook, PJ. "OpEd." The News & Observer (Raleigh) (March 1, 2007). (Editorial Comment)


Crime Gun Theft awarded by Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2016

Visiting Scholar Russell Sage Foundation awarded by Russell Sage Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2015

(95-1044) Effects of Policy Changes on Pregnancy Outcomes awarded by National Institute for Child Health & Human Develo (Co-Principal Investigator). 1996 to 1998

(94-0813) The Development of Demand for Intoxicating Substances awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1993 to 1994

(93-0431) The Development of Demand for Intoxicating Substances awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1993 to 1994

(93-0654) Causes and Effects of Youthful Drinking awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1992 to 1994

(91-0842) Causes and Consequences of Youthful Drinking awarded by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (Principal Investigator). 1992 to 1993

(88-0016) Graduate Fellowship Support awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 1987 to 1988