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

Braga, Anthony A., Garen J. Wintemute, Glenn L. Pierce, Philip J. Cook, and Greg Ridgeway. “Interpreting the empirical evidence on illegal gun market dynamics.Journal of Urban Health : Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 89, no. 5 (October 2012): 779–93. Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “Drug policy research.” Issues in Science and Technology 29, no. 1 (September 1, 2012): 9–11.

Cook, Philip J. “Evidence from a high-income country.Addiction (Abingdon, England) 107, no. 8 (August 2012): 1388–89. Full Text

Cook, Philip J., Stephen J. Machin, Olivier E. Marie, and Giovanni Mastrobuoni. “Lessons from the Economics of Crime,” July 29, 2012.

Cook, P. J., M. O’Brien, A. Braga, and J. Ludwig. “Lessons from a partially controlled field trial.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 8, no. 3 (May 10, 2012): 271–87. Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “Alcohol retail privatization: a commentary.American Journal of Preventive Medicine 42, no. 4 (April 2012): 430–32. Full Text

Cook, P. J. “Q&A on Firearms Availability, Carrying, and Misuse.” Government, Law and Policy Journal 14, no. 1 (2012): 77–81.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “The Economist's guide to crime busting.” The Wilson Quarterly, December 2011, 62–66.

Cook, P. J. “Post-Heller Strategies to reduce gun violence.” Journal of Catholic Social Thought 8, no. 1 (December 2011): 93–110.


Cook, Philip J., and Jens Ludwig. “Assigning Deviant Youths to Minimize Total Harm,” 2005.

Cook, P. J., and N. Khmilevska. “Cross-National Patterns in Crime Rates.” In Crime and Punishment in Western Countries, 1980-1999, edited by M. Tonry and D. P. Farrington, 331–45. Chicago: Univesity of Chicago Press, 2005.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “The Effects of Gun Prevalence on Burglary Deterrence Vs. Inducement.” In Evaluating Gun Policy, edited by J. Ludwig and P. J. Cook, 74–118. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “Pragmatic Gun Policy.” In Evaluating Gun Policy, edited by J. Ludwig and P. J. Cook, 1–37. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “The Effects of the Brady Act on Gun Violence.” In Guns, Crime, and Punishment in America, edited by B. E. Harcourt, 283–98. New York: NYU Press, 2003.

Cook, P. J. “'Comment' on 'Catching Cheating Teachers'.” In Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs 2003, edited by W. G. Gale and J. R. Pack, 2010–2215. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2003.

Cook, P. J., and A. Braga. “New Law Enforcement Uses for Comprehensive Firearms Trace Data.” In Guns, Crime, and Punishment, edited by B. E. Harcourt, 163–87. New York: NYU Press, 2003.

Cook, P. J., and J. H. Laub. “After the Epidemic: Recent Trends in Youth Violence in the United States.” In Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, edited by M. Tonry, 117–53. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Cook, P. J., M. H. Moore, and A. Braga. “Gun Control.” In Crime: Public Policies For Crime Control, edited by J. Q. Wilson and J. Petersilia, 291–329. Oakland, CA: ICS Press, 2002.

Braga, A. A., P. J. Cook, D. M. Kennedy, and M. H. Moore. “The Illegal Supply of Firearms.” In Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, edited by M. Tonry, 229–62. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.