Philip J. Cook

ITT/Terry Sanford Professor of Public Policy Studies

External Address: 
215 Sanford Inst Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90245, 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. "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

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

Truancy Prevention Project awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 2012 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