David R. Henderson

Research Fellow
Biography: 

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution. He is also an associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Henderson's writing focuses on public policy. His specialty is in making economic issues and analyses clear and interesting to general audiences. Two themes emerge from his writing: (1) that the unintended consequences of government regulation and spending are usually worse than the problems they are supposed to solve and (2) that freedom and free markets work to solve people's problems.

David Henderson is the editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Warner Books, 2007), a book that communicates to a general audience what and how economists think. The Wall Street Journal commented, "His brainchild is a tribute to the power of the short, declarative sentence." The encyclopedia went through three printings and was translated into Spanish and Portuguese. It is now on the web at http://www.econlib.org/library/CEE.html. He coauthored Making Great Decisions in Business and Life (2006). Henderson's book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey (Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2001), has been translated into Russian. Henderson also writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal and Fortune and, from 1997 to 2000, was a monthly columnist with Red Herring, an information technology magazine. He currently serves as an adviser to LifeSharers, a nonprofit network of organ and tissue donors.

Henderson has been on the faculty of the Naval Postgraduate School since 1984 and a research fellow with Hoover since 1990. He was the John M. Olin Visiting Professor with the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis in 1994; a senior economist for energy and health policy with the President's Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984; a visiting professor at the University of Santa Clara from 1980 to 1981; a senior policy analyst with the Cato Institute from 1979 to 1980; and an assistant professor at the University of Rochester's Graduate School of Management from 1975 to 1979.

In 1997, he received the Rear Admiral John Jay Schieffelin Award for excellence in teaching from the Naval Postgraduate School. In 1984, he won the Mencken Award for best investigative journalism article for his Fortune article "The Myth of MITI."

Henderson has written for the New York Times, Barron's, Fortune, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Public Interest, the Christian Science Monitor, National Review, the New York Daily News, the Dallas Morning News, and Reason. He has also written scholarly articles for the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Journal of Monetary Economics, Cato Journal, Regulation, Contemporary Policy Issues, and Energy Journal.

Henderson has spoken before a wide variety of audiences, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, the St. Louis Discussion Club, the Commonwealth Club of California (National Defense and Business Economics Section), the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. He has also spoken to economists and general audiences at many universities around the country, including Carnegie-Mellon, Brown, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Davis, the University of Rochester, the University of Chicago, Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School, and the Hoover Institution. He has given papers at annual conferences held by the American Economics Association, the Western Economics Association, and the Association of Public Policy and Management. He has testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. He has also appeared on the O'Reilly Factor (Fox News), C-SPAN, CNN, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and regional talk shows.

Born and raised in Canada, Henderson earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Winnipeg in 1970 and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1976.

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Blogs

A Proposed Bet For Bob Murphy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, May 28, 2015

As regular readers of Econlog probably know, I had a bet with Bob Murphy a few years ago about inflation and I won. Bob is a good sport and he paid up. I follow this part of co-blogger Bryan Caplan's Better's Oath: "When I win a bet, I will not shame my opponent, for a betting loser has far more honor than the mass of men who live by loose and idle talk."

Blogs

Henderson's Law Of Heroic Movies

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 25, 2015

Dan Klein, with whom I've been arguing about designer babies lately, recently suggested that I post about an article I wrote for Reason 26 years ago: Henderson's Law of Heroic Movies.

Blogs

John Nash, RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, May 24, 2015

The famous game theorist John Nash and his wife Alicia were killed in a traffic accident yesterday in New Jersey. He was 86. I met him and had lunch with him when he came to speak at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey a few years ago.

Blogs

Should We Fear Progress?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, May 23, 2015

As I mentioned in a comment on Bryan Caplan's response to Dan Klein, the further I get away from Dan Klein's piece on "designer babies," the less persuaded I am. That glide path has continued. Virtually all of Dan Klein's objection was based on the idea of comparison with the past.

Blogs

The Portuguese Puzzle: Decriminalization Of Drugs And Drug Usage

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, May 22, 2015

In 2009, Glenn Greenwald wrote, for the Cato Institute, a study of the effects of drug decriminalization in Portugal. Among his findings were that drug usage actually decreased among various populations.

Blogs

Murphy On Interpersonal Utility Comparisons

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, May 22, 2015

Bob Murphy has done a huge service by laying out clearly the economic reasoning behind my conclusions (here and here) that: (1) you can't make interpersonal utility comparisons and (2) utility is ordinal, not cardinal. His piece is not long and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the discussion.

Blogs

Am I Out Of Date? I Don't Think So

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, May 21, 2015

I'm always willing to be told that I'm out of date on something. Getting up to date is, after all, one of the main ways we learn. I'm highly skeptical about David's claim, though. For one thing, you would think that if Von Neumann showed this over half a century ago, my professors at UCLA, especially people like Armen Alchian and Jack Hirshleifer, would have known about it. I don't recall that they contradicted Paul Samuelson on this.

Blogs

Tyler Cowen On Interpersonal Utility Comparisons

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

One of the things we are most sure of in economics is that you can't compare utility, marginal or otherwise, across individuals. Utility is ordinal, not cardinal. Which is why I don't understand Tyler Cowen's post this morning.

Football in motion over grass
Blogs

Great Rules For Discussion

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I've been reading more about the "Deflategate" case than I ever would have imagined. It's not because I'm a Patriots fan or a Patriots hater. I'm neither. It's not because I'm a football fan. I'm not really; I don't tend to watch whole football games until the playoffs and the NBA and especially the Golden State Warriors are what I'm passionate about. But I do have a passion here: it's a passionate that animates me in all parts of my life. It's the passion for justice and fair play.

Blogs

Politi-Obfuscate

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 18, 2015

Punditfact bothered to check average growth rates of GDP by decade. Punditfact also checked top tax rates during the 1960s and found the split noted above. They found Gates's claim about tax rates being 90 percent in the 1960s to be false (if I were to put in in their terms, I would say "Mostly False" because tax rates were below 90 percent for over half the decade.)

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