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

Sanford, C., S. W. Marshall, S. L. Martin, T. Coyne-Beasley, A. E. Waller, P. J. Cook, T. Norwood, and Z. Demissie. “Deaths from violence in North Carolina, 2004: how deaths differ in females and males.Injury Prevention : Journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention 12 Suppl 2 (December 2006): ii10–16. Full Text

Cook, P. J. “Symposium on Deterrence: Editorial Introduction.” Criminology & Public Policy 53, no. 3 (August 2006): 413–16.

Cook, Philip J., Robert MacCoun, Clara Muschkin, and Jacob L. Vigdor. “Should Sixth Grade Be in Elementary or Middle School? An Analysis of Grade Configuration and Student Behavior,” August 2006.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “Aiming for evidence-based gun policy.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 25, no. 3 (June 1, 2006): 691–735. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and S. B. Sorenson. “The gender gap among teen survey respondents: Why are boys more likely to report a gun in the home than girls?Journal of Quantitative Criminology 22, no. 1 (March 1, 2006): 61–76. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “The social costs of gun ownership.” Journal of Public Economics 90, no. 1–2 (January 1, 2006): 379–91. Full Text

Cook, P. J., and N. Khmilevska. “Cross-national patterns in crime rates.” Crime and Justice 33 (January 1, 2006): 331–45. Full Text

Wintemute, G. J., P. J. Cook, and M. A. Wright. “Risk factors among handgun retailers for frequent and disproportionate sales of guns used in violent and firearm related crimes.Injury Prevention : Journal of the International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention 11, no. 6 (December 2005): 357–63. Full Text

Cook, Philip J., Jens Ludwig, and Anthony A. Braga. “Criminal records of homicide offenders.Jama 294, no. 5 (August 2005): 598–601. Full Text

Cook, P. J., J. Ostermann, and F. A. Sloan. “The Net Effect of an Alcohol Tax Increase on.” American Economic Review 95, no. 2 (May 2005): 278–81.


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.

Cook, P. J. “The Effect of Liquor Taxes on Drinking, Cirrhosis, and Auto Fatalities.” In What Role for Government?, edited by R. Zeckhauser and D. Leebaert, 203–20. Durham, NC: Duke Universigty Press, 1983.

Cook, P. J. “The Effect of Liquor Taxes on Drinking, Cirrhosis, and Auto Fatalities.” In What Role for Government?, edited by R. Zeckhauser and D. Leebaert, 203–20. Durham, NC: Duke Universigty Press, 1983.

Cook, P. J. “Alcohol Taxes as a Public Health Measure.” In Economics and Alcohol, edited by M. Grant, M. Plant, and A. Williams. Croom Helm Ltd., 1983.

Cook, P. J. “The Influence of Gun Availability on Violent Crime Patterns.” In Crime and Justice: An Annual Review of Research, edited by N. Morris and M. Tonry, 4:49–90. University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Cook, P. J. “Costs of Crime.” In Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, edited by S. H. Kadish. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1983.

Cook, P. J. “The Role of Firearms in Violent Crime.” In Criminal Violence, edited by M. E. Wolfgang and N. A. Weiner, 236–89. Sage Publications, 1982.

Cook, P. J. “The Effect of Liquor Taxes on Drinking, Cirrhosis, and Auto Fatalities.” In Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition, edited by M. Moore and D. Gerstein, 255–85. National Academy of Sciences, 1981.

Cook, P. J. “Punishment and Crime: A Critique of Recent Findings on the Preventive Effects of Punishment.” In The Economics of Crime, edited by R. Andreano and J. Siegfried, 137–80. John Wiley, 1980.

Cook, P. J. “The Clearance Rate as a Measure of Criminal Justice System Effectiveness.” In Criminology Review Yearbook, edited by E. Bittner and S. L. Messinger, Vol. 2. Sage Publications, 1980.