April 11, 2012

Cook to deliver annual Vandeveer lecture

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Crime dropped in the 1990s, and the private sector, not just the criminal justice system, may be part of the reason why. 

Philip J. Cook, ITT/Sanford Professor of Public Policy, and professor of economics and sociology economics at Duke University, delivers the Ninth Annual Vandeveer Chair Public Lecture in Economics beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, in the Student Center Auditorium.

Cook will discuss “Public Safety through Private Action,” a topic he addressed with co-author John MacDonald for the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2010. 

Cook notes that policy makers and scholarly commentators have not sufficiently examined the role of the private sector in crime rate fluctuations, particularly when crime drops.  He notes several possible factors originating in the private sector, including increased reporting of crime, the growing use of alarms and monitoring equipment, and the decline in the use of cash.  Cook will discuss BIDs -- business improvement districts -- which may increase the effectiveness of the private sector’s impact on reducing crime in certain areas.

Cook is a recognized expert on the economics of crime, and is the author of “Gun Violence: The Real Costs,” and other publications.  He also researches the prevention of alcohol-related problems through restrictions on the availability of alcohol.

The annual Vandeveer Chair Lecture is an activity of the endowed Vandeveer Chair in the Department of Economics, held by Professor Sajal Lahiri.  This lecture is the high point of the lecture series, and is distinguished by addressing a topic of broader-based interest than economics alone.  Lahiri said he uses the opportunity afforded by the annual lecture to bring a noted economist to campus to address a topic of current interest to a general audience.