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 online at the Library of Economics and Liberty. 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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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Good News On Repealing Obamacare: The Woodwork Effect

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, December 1, 2016

Many people worry that if Obamacare were replaced in one fell swoop, almost all the people who enrolled in Medicaid due to the law would lose their health insurance. This worry is understandable. Nevertheless, it turns out to be unjustified. Many of the people who were enrolled in Medicaid as a result of Obamacare would lose their insurance.

Analysis and Commentary

In Praise Of Ineffective Politicians

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Twitter today is all heated up with justifiable upset about Donald Trump's latest anti-liberty proposal: a prison sentence and possibly loss of citizenship for someone who burns a flag. Other tweeters have pointed out that the prison sentence part of what he proposes is similar to the legal sanctions in a bill on flag burning that Senator Hillary Clinton co-sponsored: the Flag Protection Act of 2005.

Analysis and Commentary

Fidel Castro's Monstrous Behavior

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 26, 2016

I learned about flash mobs early on in my life. One of my aunts was particularly religious. She and I end up going to church one Sunday morning probably in late 1961 or early 1962. While the mass is taking place, a mob of anti-Catholic protesters gathers around the church and blocks all exits.

Analysis and Commentary

My Writing Tutor: Dan Seligman

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 25, 2016

Last month, I told the first part of the story about Dan Seligman, the Fortune editor who taught me so much about writing. I promised to tell the second part. Here it is.

Analysis and Commentary

Giving Thanks

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, November 24, 2016

On previous Thanksgivings, I've written blog posts expressing my thankfulness for a relatively high degree of freedom in my adopted country and for various people in my life who have helped me along the way.

Analysis and Commentary

Mercantilism Dies Hard

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

One of the things that economists, whatever their other views, are most sure of is that free trade is a good idea. The normal way we argue for trade, either between individuals and companies in a country or between individuals and companies across borders, is that both sides benefit.

Analysis and Commentary

Noah Smith On The Islamic Civil War

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 21, 2016

Noah Smith has a beautifully numerate discussion of wars being fought by radical Muslims. He does it in the context of analyzing Trump advisor Steve Bannon, and that analysis is not bad.

Analysis and Commentary

Larry Summers's Perspective

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 18, 2016

In a post yesterday, Tyler Cowen writes, "Here is perspective from Larry Summers." Not here is a perspective from Larry Summers. Not here is Larry Summers's perspective. The implication is that Larry Summers has a good perspective. The issue? Trump.

Analysis and Commentary

Repealing Regulations

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, November 17, 2016

Might the administrative state have expired quietly, six months ago? Arguably it did, if what we mean by the administrative state is the array of regulatory agencies, not only executing the law, but also creating binding new law without legislative consent. Bear with me.

Analysis and Commentary

Eichengreen On Market Failure

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

If you took Economics 101, you can probably dredge up cases of market failure in which government intervention is justified. For example, governments tax the emission of pollutants (or regulate them directly) because the cost of pollution would otherwise be borne by third parties and thus not taken into account in the balance of supply and demand. 

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