David Skarbek

Associate Professor in Political Science, Brown University


Working Papers


Unbundle the Police: How to Have Less Crime and More Justice. Manuscript in preparation. 


Abolish the Police? An Economic Framework for Analysis


Vigilantism (with Danilo Freire)


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

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?

Book Reviews 


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


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
2017


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

Journal Articles



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

[with D. Freire and U. Mignozzetti]

Journal of Experimental Political Science, 2020 


Qualitative Research Methods for Institutional Analysis. 

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2020


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


What Aid Can't Do: Reply to Ranis 

[with P. Leeson] 

The Cato Journal, 2011


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


Alertness, Local Knowledge, and Johnny Appleseed 

Review of Austrian Economics, 2009


What Can Aid Do? 

[with P. Leeson] 

The Cato Journal, 2009


F.A. Hayek's Influence on Nobel Prize Winners  

Review of Austrian Economics, 2009


Market Failure and Natural Disasters: A Reexamination of Anti-Gouging Laws 

Public Contract Law Journal, 2008


The Price is Right: Regulation, Reputation, and Recovery 

[with B. Skarbek] 

Dartmouth Law Journal, 2008 


Occupational Licensing and Asymmetric Information: Post-Hurricane Evidence from Florida 

The Cato Journal, 2008


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

[with B. Powell] 

Journal of Labor Research, 2006