David Skarbek

Working Papers

The Political Economy of Criminal Governance

​What makes signals credible?

Professor of Political Science and Political Economy

Director, Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

​Immediate Past ​President, Public Choice Society

Book Reviews 

Review of The Partisan Politics of Law and Order, by Georg Wenzelburger. A Critical Dialogue in Perspectives on Politics, 2021

Review of Competing for Control: Gangs and the Social Order of Prisons, by David C. Pyrooz & Scott H. Decker Punishment & Society, 2020

Review of WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird, by Peter T. Leeson Public Choice2018

Review of ​Outlaws of the Atlantic: Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail, by Marcus Rediker Journal of Economic History​, 2014

Review of The Modern Prison Paradox: Politics, Punishments, and Social Community, by Amy E. Lerman  Public Choice, 2014

Review Essay of Prisonomics: Behind Bars in Britain's Failing Prisons, by Vicky Pryce Economic Affairs, 2014

Review of Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories, by Federico Varese Public Choice, 2012

Book chapters & Other Writings

Comparative Approaches to the Study of Prison Gangs and Prison Order (with K Woltz)

The Oxford Handbook of Gangs and Society, forthcoming.

Analytical Narratives and Institutional Analysis

Essays in Honor of Peter Boettke, 2020.

​Prisoner's Law

Legal Systems Very Different From Ours, 2019

Varieties of Prison Social Order: Extra-legal Governance Behind Bars
The Political Economist Newsletter, Fall

Self-Governance, Property Rights, and Illicit Commerce

Research Handbook on Austrian Law & Economics, 2017  

Prison Gangs (with  D. Freire)  

Handbook of Corrections in the United States, 2017

Polycentrism and Prison Gangs (with A. Marcum)

The Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, 2012

Restricting Reconstruction: Occupational Licensing and Natural Disasters 

The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound, 2010 

Adam's Apple: Using Johnny Appleseed to Teach the Invisible Hand' (with J. Hall) 

Expanding Teaching and Learning Horizons in Economic Education, 2009


Vigilantism and Institutions: Understanding Attitudes toward Lynching in Brazil

[w D Freire]

Research and Politics, 2023

​Analytic Narratives in Political Economy
[with E. Skarbek]

History of Political Economy, 2023

The Organization of Danish Gangs: A Transaction Cost Approach

[with S. Sløk-Madsen, A. Hansen, and A. Rezaei]

Trends in Organized Crime, 2021

​The Evolution of Norms within a Society of Captives

[with C. Seagren]

Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, 2021

Institutional Design and Elite Support for Climate Policies: Evidence from Latin American Countries 

[with D. Freire and U. Mignozzetti]

Journal of Experimental Political Science, 2021 

Qualitative Research Methods for Institutional Analysis. 

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2020

  • Shortlisted, 2021 Elinor Ostrom Prize, World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research
  • Winner, SDAE Prize for the Best Article in Austrian Economics 2020
  • ​The journal published three comments in response: Peter T. Leeson, Claude Ménard, and Mary M. Shirley

The Decline and Rise of Institutions 

[with Liya Palagashvili and E. Piano] 

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Elements, 2017

Covenants without the Sword? Comparing Prison Self-Governance Globally 

American Political Science Review, 2016

Criminal Rituals 

[with P. Wang]

Global Crime, 2015

Prison Gangs and the Community Responsibility System 

[with M. Garrett Roth] 

Review of Behavioral Economics, 2014

The Effect of Prison Gang Membership on Recidivism 

[with B. Dooley and A. Seals] 

Journal of Criminal Justice, 2014

Why Didn't Slaves Revolt More Often During the Middle Passage? 

[with A. Marcum] 

Rationality & Society, 2014

The Governance Institutions of a Drug Trafficking Organization 

[with J. Kostelnik] 

Public Choice, 2013 

The Industrial Organization of Street Gangs 

[with R. Sobel]  

Journal of Gang Research, 2012

Anarchy, Groups, and Conflict: An Experiment on the Emergence of Protective Associations 

[with A. Smith and B. Wilson] 

Social Choice & Welfare, 2012

Prison Gangs, Norms, and Organizations 

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2012

  • Winner, Emerald Citations of Excellence 2015
  • ​Winner, FEE Prize for Best Article in Austrian Economics 2013

Sweatshops, Opportunity Costs, and Non-Monetary Compensation: Evidence from El Salvador 

[with Skarbek et al] 

American Journal of Economics & Sociology, 2012

Governance and Prison Gangs 

American Political Science Review, 2011

  • Reprinted in The Economics of Governance (ed. Donald Wittman) Edward Elgar Publisher, 2017. 
  • Reprinted in Transnational Organized Crime (ed. James Sheptycki) Sage Publications, 2014.
  • ​Discussed on Marginal Revolution

Putting the "Con" into Constitutions: The Economics of Prison Gangs 

The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, 2010

Criminal Constitutions 

[with P. Leeson] 

Global Crime, 2010

Self-Governance in San Pedro Prison 

The Independent Review, 2010

Sweatshops Wages and Third World Living Standards: Are the Jobs Worth the Sweat? 

[with B. Powell] 

Journal of Labor Research, 2006