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Mark A. Cohen

Justin Potter Professor of American Competitive Enterprise and Professor of Law
University Fellow, Resources for the Future

Subject Area(s): Strategy and Business Economics, Ethics and Social Responsibility

Mark Cohen has extensive experience analyzing government enforcement policies - as both a government economist and an academic - with particular emphasis on environmental and criminal justice issues. A leading expert on enforcing environmental regulations and on corporate crime and punishment, Professor Cohen has published over 100 articles and books on such diverse topics as the effect of community's right to know laws on firm behavior; why firms reduce toxic chemical emissions; cost-benefit analysis of oil spill regulation and enforcement; how the financial markets value corporate environmental policies and performance; and government enforcement policy and judicial sentencing of individuals and firms convicted of environmental crimes. He has also written extensively on the cost of crime.

Prior to joining the Owen faculty in 1986, Professor Cohen was a senior economist with the 
U.S. Sentencing Commission. He also served as a staff economist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Prof. Cohen recently returned from three-year leave of absence after serving as Vice President for Research at Resources for the Future (RFF) - an independent, non-partisan research institute focusing on environmental and natural resource economics policy issues. Following the April 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he led a research team advising the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling on ways to improve government policies and the safety culture of the offshore drilling industry (see He currently serves as a member of the External Citizenship Advisory Panel for ExxonMobil.

Professor Cohen previously served as Chairman of the American Statistical Association's Committee on Law and Justice Statistics. He has also been a member of Tennessee's Environmental Justice Steering Committee. Professor Cohen was also an inaugural member of the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), a multi-stakeholder Collaborating Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme, dedicated to developing and disseminating globally applicable sustainability reporting guidelines. He has served as a member of the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board's Illegal Competitive Advantage Economic Benefit Advisory Panel; and the General Accounting Office's Expert Panel on Disclosure of Environmental Information in SEC filings.

Professor Cohen has consulted with major corporations, state, federal and non-U.S. government organizations on topics ranging from nondiscriminatory and fair lending practices, consumer protection, corporate crime and punishment, and environmental regulation and enforcement. He is a frequent speaker and organizer at international conferences, including the co-chair of the 2014 World Conference on Environmental and Resource Economics held in Istanbul; Market Responses and the Effectiveness of Energy Policies held in Washington, DC; and a conference honoring the 20th Anniversary of the Porter Hypothesis; Can Environmental Regulation Enhance Competitiveness.

His 2001 paper with Shameek Konar, Does the Market Value Environmental Performance? was recently cited as one of the 75 seminal and most influential articles in the past 35 years in the field of Business and the Natural Environment. In 2005, he was honored by Money Magazine as a Class Act of 2004 for his work on racial disparity in the auto lending industry. In the classroom, he teaches business and law students topics such as Corporate Strategies for Environmental, Social & Governance Issues, Economics of Organizations, and the Law and Business of Climate Change. He is the recipient of both teaching and research awards at the Owen School.


B.S.F.S., International Economics, Georgetown University, 1978
M.A., Economics, Carnegie-Mellon University, 1983
Ph.D., Economics, Carnegie-Mellon University, 1985

Other Course(s):
Economics of Organizations;
Corporate Strategies for Environmental and Social Responsibility;
Nonmarket Strategies;
Environmental Issues in Operations;
Environmental Issues in Marketing

Research Interest(s):
Law and economics; government regulation; white-collar and corporate crime; and environmental management and sustainability.

Area(s) of Expertise:
Environmental regulation; criminal justice issues; corporate crime and punishment; street crime; consumer protection and discriminatory lending practices; microeconomics; and public policy analysis.


Cohen, Mark A. and V. Santhakumar, “Information Disclosure as Environmental Regulation: A Theoretical Analysis.” Environmental and Resource Economics 37(3): 599-620 (July 2007).
Cohen, Mark A. The Costs of Crime and Justice (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005); ISBN 0-415-70072-8 (hardback), 0-415-70073-6 (paperback).
Steen, Sara and Mark A. Cohen, "Assessing the Public's Demand for Hate Crime Penalties." Justice Quarterly (March 2004).
Cohen, Mark A., Roland Rust, Sara Steen, and Simon Tidd, "Willingness-to-Pay for Crime Control Programs." Criminology 42(1): 86-106 (February 2004).
Cohen, Mark A. and Ted R. Miller, "'Willingness to Award' Nonmonetary Damages and the Implied Value of Life from Jury Awards," International Review of Law and Economics 23: 165-81 (June 2003).
Brunnermeier, Smita and Mark A. Cohen, "Determinants of Environmental Innovation in U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 45(2): 278-93 (March 2003).
Cohen, Mark A. "Information as a Policy Instrument in Protecting the Environment: What Have We Learned?" Environmental Law Reporter 31: 10425-31 (April 2001).
Cohen, Mark A. "Empirical Research on the Deterrent Effect of Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement," Environmental Law Reporter, 30: 10245-52 (April 2000).
Cohen, Mark A. "Measuring the Costs and Benefits of Crime and Justice." Chapter in Volume 4 (pp. 263-316): Measurement and Analysis of Crime and Justice," Criminal Justice 2000. National Institute of Justice, July 2000, NCJ 182411; available at
Cohen, Mark A. "Monitoring and Enforcement of Environmental Policy," International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 1999/2000, edited by Tom Tietenberg and Henk Folmer; Edward Elgar publishers, 1999, pages 44-106.
Environmental Information Disclosure and Stakeholder Involvement: Searching for Common Ground
Cohen, Mark A. "The Monetary Value of Saving a High Risk Youth," Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 14 (1): 5-33 (1998).
Konar, Shameek and Mark A. Cohen, "Information As Regulation: The Effect of Community Right to Know Laws on Toxic Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 32(1): 109-124 (1997).
Cohen, Mark A. "Firm Response to Environmental Pressures," Managerial and Decision Economics. Guest Editor of Special Issue with seven refereed articles (including Introduction, pp. 417-20). Volume 18 (1997).

Presentation(s) and Proceeding(s):

Cohen, Mark A. "Oil Pollution Prevention and Enforcement Measures and their Effectiveness: a Survey of Empirical Research from the U.S." in Proceedings of International Conference on Marine (Oil) Pollution: Legal Remedies in China, Europe and the US. Volume in Comparative Environmental Law & Policy Series, Kluwer Law International, Eric W. Orts & Kurt Deketelaere eds., (forthcoming, 2005).
"Why Do Firms Comply (and sometimes 'Over-comply') with Environmental Regulations?" Conference on Economic Aspects of Environmental Compliance Assurance, Paris, France, December 2-3, 2004 (sponsored by OECD Global Forum on Sustainable Development).
"Oil Pollution Prevention and Enforcement Measures and their Effectiveness: a Survey of Empirical Research from the U.S."
"The Cost of Crime: Methods and Findings from Past & Recent Research" European Seminar on Costs and the Distribution of Costs of Crime and Disorder and Crime Prevention, Helsinki, Finland, April 1-2, 2004 (sponsored by Finnish National Council for Crime Prevention, Swedish Council for Crime Prevention, and European Commission).
"Corporate Sustainability Reporting," International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation/American Petroleum Institute Workshop on CSR/Sustainability Reporting, San Francisco, CA. April 3, 2003.

Media Mentions:

OIL SPILL PREVENTION AND ENFORCEMENT: Interviewed on National Public Radio "Marketplace" and "Morning Edition" on BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010); New York Times (2011 and 2014) on containing future oil spills.

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING: Wall Street Journal (2005) and National Public Radio (2005).

RACIAL DISPARITY IN AUTO LENDING AND HOUSING MARKETS: Washington Post (2004), Los Angeles Times (2004), Houston Chronicle (2004), Philadelphia Inquirer (2005), New York Times (2005), others.