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

MacCoun, R., P. J. Cook, C. Muschkin, and J. L. Vigdor. “Distinguishing spurious and real peer effects: Evidence from artificial societies, small-group experiments, and real schoolyards.” Review of Law and Economics 4, no. 3 (January 1, 2008). Full Text

Sorenson, S. B., and P. J. Cook. “'We've got a gun?': Comparing reports of adolescents and their parents about household firearms.” Journal of Community Psychology 36, no. 1 (January 2008): 1–19.

Cook, P. J. “A Free Lunch.” Journal of Drug Policy Analysis 1, no. 1 (2008).

Cook, P., J. Ludwig, S. Venkatesh, and A. Braga. “Half-cocked.” Economist 385, no. 8558 (December 8, 2007).

Cook, P. J., J. Ludwig, S. Venkatesh, and A. A. Braga. “Underground gun markets.” Economic Journal 117, no. 524 (November 1, 2007). Full Text

Cook, Philip J., and Peter Reuter. “When is alcohol just another drug? Some thoughts on research and policy.Addiction (Abingdon, England) 102, no. 8 (August 2007): 1183–88. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and P. Reuter. “Response to comments.” Addiction 102, no. 8 (August 1, 2007): 1192–93. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and P. Reuter. “When is alcohol just another drug?Addiction 98, no. 10 (June 2007): 1182–88.

Cook, P. J., and R. Hutchinson. “Smoke Signals: Adolescent Smoking and School Continuation.” Advances in Austrian Economics 10 (May 22, 2007): 157–86. Full Text


Cook, P. J. “The Technology of Personal Violence.” In Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, edited by M. Tonry, Vol. 14. University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Cook, P. J. “The Effect of Gun Availability on Violent Crime Patterns.” In Violence:  Patterns, Causes, Public Policy, edited by N. A. Weiner, M. A. Zahn, and R. J. Sagi. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990.

Cook, P. J. “The Impact of Distilled Spirits Taxes on Consumption, Auto Fatalities and Cirrhosis Mortality.” In Control Issues in Alcohol Abuse Prevention: Strategies for States and Communities, Advances in Substance Abuse, Suppl: 1, edited by H. D. Holder, 159–67. Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 1987.

Cook, P. J. “The Economics of Criminal Sanctions.” In Sanctions and Rewards in the Legal System, edited by M. L. Friedland. University of Toronot Press, 1987.

Cook, P. J., and J. H. Laub. “Trends in Child Abuse and Juvenile Delinquency.” In From Children to Citizens: The Role of the Juvenile Court, edited by F. X. Hartman, 2:109–27. New York: Springer Verlag, 1987.

Cook, P. J. “Notes on an Accounting Scheme for a Juvenile Correctional System.” In From Children to Citizens: The Role of the Juvenile Court, edited by F. X. Hartman, 2:362–70. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1987.

Cook, P. J., and J. Blose. “State Programs for Screening Handgun Buyers.” In State Politics and the New Federalism, edited by M. Gittell. New York: Longman, 1986.

Cook, P. J. “The Demand and Supply of Criminal Opportunities.” In Crime and Justice:  An Annual Review of Research, edited by M. Tonry and N. Morris, 7:1–28. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Cook, P. J. “Criminal Incapacitation Effects Considered in an Adaptive Choice Framework.” In The Reasoning Criminal, edited by D. Cornish and R. Clarke, 202–16. New York: Springer Verlag, 1986.

Cook, P. J. “Increasing the Federal Alcohol Excise Tax.” In Toward the Prevention of Alcohol Problems:  Government, Business, and Community Action, edited by D. Gerstein, 24–32. Washington, DC: National Academic Press, 1984.