Associate Professor in Political Science, Brown University

Visiting Scholar, Center for the STudy of Law & Society, Berkeley Law (19-20)

David Skarbek

Working Papers

Institutional Design and Elite Support for Climate Policies. (with D. Freire and U. Mignozzetti). Revise & resubmit. 

Forced Cooperation: The Evolution of Norms within a Society of Captives (with C. Seagren). Revise & resubmit. 

Deaths and Disappearances in the Pinochet Regime: A New Dataset. (with D. Freire, J. Meadowcroft, and E. Guerrero). Under review. 

Does It Matter Who Candidates Marry? Assessing the Electoral Consequences of Interracial Marriage (w P. Testa and B. Davis). In preparation. 

​What makes signals credible?

Gresham Sykes and the New Jersey Prison Gangs of 1830


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

Review of ​Outlaws of the Atlantic: Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail, by Marcus Rediker Journal of Economic History​ 74(4) 2014: 1238-1239

Review of The Modern Prison Paradox: Politics, Punishments, and Social Community, by Amy E. Lerman  Public Choice 161(3-4) 2014: 537-539.

Review Essay of Prisonomics: Behind Bars in Britain's Failing Prisons, by Vicky Pryce Economic Affairs 34(3) 2014: 411-321.

Review of Mafias on the Move: How Organized Crime Conquers New Territories, by Federico Varese Public Choice 151(1-2) 2012: 405-407.

Book chapters & Other Writings

"Varieties of Prison Social Order: Extra-legal Governance Behind BarsThe Political Economist Newsletter, Fall 2017

"Prisoner's Law" Legal Systems Very Different From Ours. By David D. Friedman

Self-Governance, Property Rights, and Illicit CommerceResearch Handbook on Austrian Law & Economics. Peter Boettke and Todd Zywicki (eds). Edward Elgar Publishing.  

Prison Gangs” (with  D. Freire)  Handbook of Corrections in the United States.Hayden Griffin and Vanessa Woodward (eds).Routledge. Forthcoming.

"Polycentrism and Prison Gangs" (with A. Marcum) The Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations. Upton Forum. 2012.

"Restricting Reconstruction: Occupational Licensing and Natural Disasters" The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound Emily Chamlee-Wright and Virgil Henry Storr (eds). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publisher. 2010: 72-83. 

"Adam's Apple: Using Johnny Appleseed to Teach the Invisible Hand'' (with J. Hall) Expanding Teaching and Learning Horizons in Economic Education Franklin G. Mixon, Jr. and Richard J. Cebula (eds). New York: Nova Science Publishers. 2009: 199-206.

Journal Articles

Qualitative Research Methods for Institutional Analysis. Journal of Institutional Economics. 2019.

The Decline and Rise of Institutions (with Liya Palagashvili and E. Piano) Cambridge Elements. 2017.

Covenants without the Sword? Comparing Prison Self-Governance Globally American Political Science Review 110(4) 2016: 845-862. 

Criminal Rituals (with P. Wang) Global Crime, 16(4) 2015: 288-305.

Prison Gangs and the Community Responsibility System (with M. Garrett Roth) Review of Behavioral Economics 1(3) 2014: 223-243.

The Effect of Prison Gang Membership on Recidivism (with B. Dooley and A. Seals) Journal of Criminal Justice 42(3) 2014: 267-275.

Why Didn't Slaves Revolt More Often During the Middle Passage? (with A. Marcum) Rationality & Society 26(2) 2014: 232-262.

The Governance Institutions of a Drug Trafficking Organization (with J. Kostelnik) Public Choice 156(1-2) 2013: 95-103. 

The Industrial Organization of Street Gangs (with R. Sobel) Journal of Gang Research 20(1) 2012: 1-17. 

Anarchy, Groups, and Conflict: An Experiment on the Emergence of Protective Associations (with A. Smith and B. Wilson) Social Choice & Welfare 38(2) 2012: 325-353. 

Prison Gangs, Norms, and Organizations Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 82(1) 2012: 96-109.

  • 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 71(3) 2012: 539-561. 

Governance and Prison Gangs American Political Science Review 105(4) 2011: 702-716.

  • 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

What Aid Can't Do: Reply to Ranis (with P. Leeson) The Cato Journal 31(1) 2011: 83-86.

Putting the "Con" into Constitutions: The Economics of Prison Gangs  The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 26(2) 2010: 183-211. 

Criminal Constitutions (with P. Leeson) Global Crime11(3) 2010: 279-298. 

Self-Governance in San Pedro Prison The Independent Review 14(4) 2010: 569-585. 

Alertness, Local Knowledge, and Johnny Appleseed Review of Austrian Economics 22(4) 2009: 415-424. 

What Can Aid Do? (with P. Leeson) The Cato Journal 29(3) 2009: 391-397. 

F.A. Hayek's Influence on Nobel Prize Winners  Review of Austrian Economics 22(1) March 2009: 109-112. 

Market Failure and Natural Disasters: A Reexamination of Anti-Gouging Laws Public Contract Law Journal 37(4) 2008: 771-780. 

The Price is Right: Regulation, Reputation, and Recovery (with B. Skarbek) Dartmouth Law Journal 6(2) 2008: 235-276. 

Occupational Licensing and Asymmetric Information: Post-Hurricane Evidence from Florida The Cato Journal 28(1) 2008: 71-80. 

Sweatshops Wages and Third World Living Standards: Are the Jobs Worth the Sweat? (with B. Powell) Journal of Labor Research 27(2) 2006: 263-274.