Philip J. Cook

Philip J. Cook

Professor Emeritus of Economics

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 - Berkeley 1973

Cook, P. J., K. A. Dodge, E. J. Gifford, and A. B. Schulting. “A new program to prevent primary school absenteeism: Results of a pilot study in five schools.” Children and Youth Services Review 82 (November 1, 2017): 262–70. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and H. A. Pollack. “Reducing access to guns by violent offenders.” Rsf 3, no. 5 (October 1, 2017): 2–36. Full Text Open Access Copy

Cook, Philip J., Ariadne E. Rivera-Aguirre, Magdalena Cerdá, and Garen Wintemute. “RE: "The hidden epidemic of firearm injury: Increasing firearm injury rates during 2001-2013".American Journal of Epidemiology 186, no. 7 (October 2017): 896. Full Text

Cook, Philip J., Ariadne E. Rivera-Aguirre, Magdalena Cerdá, and Garen Wintemute. “Constant Lethality of Gunshot Injuries From Firearm Assault: United States, 2003-2012.American Journal of Public Health 107, no. 8 (August 2017): 1324–28. Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “At Last, a Good Estimate of the Magnitude of the Private-Sale Loophole for Firearms.Annals of Internal Medicine 166, no. 4 (February 2017): 301–2. Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “Deadly force.Science (New York, N.Y.) 355, no. 6327 (February 2017): 803. Full Text

Cook, P. J. “Behavioral Science Critique of HOPE.” Criminology and Public Policy 15, no. 4 (November 1, 2016): 1155–61. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and S. Kang. “Birthdays, schooling, and crime: Regression-discontinuity analysis of school performance, delinquency, dropout, and crime initiation.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 8, no. 1 (January 1, 2016): 33–57. Full Text

Webster, Daniel W., Magdalena Cerdá, Garen J. Wintemute, and Philip J. Cook. “Epidemiologic Evidence to Guide the Understanding and Prevention of Gun Violence.Epidemiologic Reviews 38, no. 1 (January 2016): 1–4. Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “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, P. J., J. Austin, and R. Levi. A Summary of State Legal Codes Governing Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings. Durham, NC: Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, Duke University, 1977.

Cook, Philip J., and Gregory W. Fischer. Citizen Cooperation with the Criminal Justice System, 1976.

Cook, Philip J., Berkeley Institute of Industrial Relations University of California, and United States Dept of Labor Manpower Administration. The effect of legitimate opportunities on the probability of parolee recidivism, 1971.


Cook, P. J. “'Comment' on 'What do economists know about crime?'.” In The Economics of Crime: Lessons for & from Latin America, edited by R. DiTella, S. Edwards, and E. Schargodsky, 302–4. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Cook, P. J., J. Ludwig, and A. M. Samaha. “Gun Control After Heller: Litigating against Regulation.” In Regulation versus Litigation, edited by D. Kessler, 103–35. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Cook, P. J., A. Braga, and M. H. Moore. “Gun Control.” In Crime and Public Policy, 257–92. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Clotfelter, C. T., and P. J. Cook. “Ends and Means in State Lotteries: The Importance of a Good Cause.” In Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape, edited by A. Wolfe and E. C. Owens, 11–38. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009.

Cook, P. J. “Crime.” In MAKING CITIES WORK:  Prospects and Policies for Urban America, edited by R. P. Inman, 297–327. Princeton University Press, 2009.

Cook, P. J. “Robbery.” In Handbook on Crime and Justice, edited by M. Tonry. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “Firearms Violence.” In Oxford Handbook on Crime and Public Policy, edited by M. Tonry. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Cook, P. J. “Robbery.” In Oxford Handbook on Crime and Public Policy, edited by J. Tonry. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Cook, P. J. “Leave the minimum drinking age to the states.” In Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice Policy, edited by N. A. Frost, J. D. Freilich, and T. R. Clear, 99–106. Belmont, MA: Wadsworth, 2009.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “The burden of "acting white": Do Black adolescents disparage academic achievement?” In Minority Status, Oppositional Culture, and Schooling, 275–97, 2008. Full Text


Cook, P. J. “OpEd.San Diego Union, April 1991.

Cook, P. J. “0pEd.Newsday, July 24, 1990.

Cook, P. J. “OpEd.The News and Observer (Raleigh), May 27, 1990.

Cook, P. J. “OpEd.The Atlanta Constitution, February 12, 1989.

Cook, P. J. “OpEd.The New York Times, August 20, 1987.

Cook, P. J. “Making Handguns Harder to Hide.” The Christian Science Monitor, May 29, 1981.