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

Kim, E. H. W., and P. J. Cook. “The continuing importance of children in relieving elder poverty: Evidence from Korea.” Ageing and Society 31, no. 6 (August 1, 2011): 953–76. Full Text

Durrance, Christine Piette, Shelley Golden, Krista Perreira, and Philip Cook. “Taxing sin and saving lives: Can alcohol taxation reduce female homicides?Social Science & Medicine (1982) 73, no. 1 (July 2011): 169–76. Full Text

Cook, P. J. “Paying the tab: The costs and benefits of alcohol control.” Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, June 27, 2011, 1–262.

Cook, P. J. “Paying the tab: The costs and benefits of alcohol control.” Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, June 27, 2011.

Cook, P. J., and J. Macdonald. “Public Safety through Private Action: An Economic Assessment of BIDs.” Economic Journal 121, no. 552 (May 1, 2011): 445–62. Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “Coproduction in deterring crime.” Criminology & Public Policy 10, no. 1 (February 2011): 103–8. Full Text

Hauck, E. F., and A. H. Siddiqui. “Comments.” Neurosurgery 67, no. SUPPL. 1 (December 1, 2010). Full Text

Cook, Philip J. “Property crime-yes; violence-no.” Criminology & Public Policy 9, no. 4 (November 2010): 693–97. Full Text

Cook, P. J., D. C. Gottfredson, and C. Na. “School crime control and prevention.” Crime and Justice 39 (January 1, 2010): 313–440. Full Text

Cook, P. J. “Potential savings from abolition of the death penalty in North Carolina.” American Law and Economics Review 11, no. 2 (December 11, 2009): 498–529. Full Text


Cook, P. J. “The Technology of Personal Violence.” In The Gun Control Debate: You Decide, edited by L. Nisbet. Chicago: Promethus Books, 2001.

Cook, P. J., and M. J. Moore. “Environment and Persistence in Youthful Drinking Patterns.” In Risky Behavior Among Youths: An Economic Analysis, edited by J. Gruber, 375–437. Chicago: Univesity of Chicago Press, 2001.

Cook, P. J. “Forward.” In Costs and Benefits of Preventing Crime, edited by B. C. Welsh, D. P. Farrington, and L. W. Sherman. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001.

Cook, Philip J., Anthony A. Braga, and Mark H. Moore. “Gun Control,” 2000.

Cook, P. J., and M. J. Moore. “Alcohol.” In Handbook of Health Economics, edited by A. J. Culyer and J. P. Newhouse, 1B:1629–73. Nwe York: North-Holland, 2000.

Kellermann, A. L., and P. J. Cook. “Armed and Dangerous: Guns in American Homes.” In Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History, edited by M. A. Bellesiles, 425–40. New York: New York University Press, 1999.

Cook, P. J., and J. Ludwig. “The Burden of 'Acting White:' Do Black Adolescents Disparage Academic Achievement?” In The Black-White Test Score Gap, edited by C. Jencks and M. Phillips, 375–400. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1998.

Cook, P. J., and J. Leitzel. “Gun Control.” In New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and Law, 1998.

Cook, P. J., and M. H. Moore. “Guns, Gun Control, and Homicide: A Review of Research and Public Policy.” In Homicide: A Sourcebook of Social Research, edited by M. D. Smith and M. A. Zahn, 277–96. Sage Publications, 1998.

Cook, P. J., and M. H. Moore. “Guns, Gun Control, and Homicide: A Review of Research and Public Policy.” In Studying and Preventing Homicide: Issues and Challenges, edited by M. D. Smith and M. A. Zahn, 246–73. Sage Publications, 1998.