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Philip J. Cook CV

ITT/Terry Sanford Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy Studies
Sanford School of Public Policy
Box 90245, Durham, NC 27708-0245
Sanford School of Public Policy, Box 90245, Durham, NC 27708


Philip J. Cook is ITT/Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Professor Emeritus of Economics  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 an honorary Fellow in the American Society of Criminology. In 2001 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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.  He also has ongoing projects on education policy and academic performance, with recent publications on starting age for public schools, and on how lead exposure affects academic performance and delinquency.

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 book with Kristin A. Goss, The Gun Debate (Oxford University Press 2014, 2020) is intended for a general audience seeking an objective assessment of the myriad relevant issues.  He is currently heading up an evaluation of the Chicago Police Department's Area Technology Centers, together with a team from the University of Chicago Crime Lab.  

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.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

ITT/Terry Sanford Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Public Policy Studies · 2017 - Present Sanford School of Public Policy
Professor Emeritus in the Sanford School of Public Policy · 2017 - Present Sanford School of Public Policy
Professor Emeritus of Economics · 2017 - Present Economics, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
Faculty Research Scholar of DuPRI's Population Research Center · 2010 - Present Duke Population Research Center, Duke Population Research Institute
Affiliate of the Center for Child and Family Policy · 2015 - Present Center for Child and Family Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy

Education, Training & Certifications

University of California, Berkeley · 1973 Ph.D.