Associate Professor in Political Science, Brown University


David Skarbek

Working Papers


Crisis in American Policing: 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. 

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?

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