David R. Henderson

Research Fellow
Biography: 

David R. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution. He is also a 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, CNBC Squawk Box, MSNBC, BBC, CBC, the Fox News Channel, RT, 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

Friedman, Galbraith, And Wright On American Capitalism

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Capitalism" has become a fighting word in the battle between East and West and for men's minds everywhere; and, like all slogans, it means many things to many men. To some "capitalism" is a term of opprobrium, signifying the oppression of little men by ruthless monopolies; to others "capitalism" is a term of hope, signifying the freedom of men to shape their own economic destinies, the unleashing of human ingenuity and energy to raise the standard of living of the masses.

Analysis and Commentary

A Knight Tale

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I'm wearing the actual poker hat that Frank Knight wore when he worked on articles. Here' the tale of how that came to be.

Analysis and Commentary

Frank Knight's Case For Communism

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

When I posted on Frank Knight's case for Communism the other day, I also put it on up on Facebook and had some people wondering about context. Those of us who are fans of Frank Knight don't think of him as a Communist. Milton Friedman and James Buchanan, to name two well-known economists, credit Knight for much of what they learned when they studied in the Ph.D. economics program at the University of Chicago: Friedman well before WWII and Buchanan after.

Analysis and Commentary

Three Thumbsuckers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 24, 2017

When I was writing a lot for Fortune in the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s, an editor of one of my articles casually referred to it as a "thumbsucker." I thought it was an insult, but he explained to me that it meant simply that readers couldn't simply scan it but needed to read it carefully and think about it.

Healthcare Costs
Analysis and Commentary

Joseph Rago RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Wall Street Journal editorial writer Joe Rago died this week at the age of 34. If you read the Review and Outlook editorials--the unsigned editorials that are published on the left hand side of the editorial page and reflect the views of the editors--chances are the ones you read about health care in the last few years were written by Joe.

Analysis and Commentary

Frank Knight On John B. Watson

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, July 21, 2017

I dug out of my library a famous unpublished (until 1991) 1932 mimeograph (those under age 45 should look up that term) article by Frank H. Knight. The article is titled "The Case for Communism: From the Standpoint of an Ex-Liberal." It's for a blog post I'm thinking of writing. A friend gave me my copy in about 1970. It's a speech he gave to the University of Chicago's Communist Club and National Student League.

Analysis and Commentary

Sudan Sanctions And My Neighbor's Cat

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diplomats here expect Washington to drop sanctions in the fall, as planned during the final days of the Obama administration, not least because they failed to achieve some key goals.

Analysis and Commentary

Getting Around Economic Sanctions In Sudan

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 20, 2017

When I started the Ph.D. economics program at UCLA in September 1972, one of the first things we graduate students heard that we should be doing different in our daily lives was to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. If I recall correctly, Ben Klein recommended it in a class he taught (that I wasn't taking at the time) and the recommendation filtered back to me.

Analysis and Commentary

De-Identifying Race And Ethnicity Reduces Bias

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What we found is that de-identifying applications at the shortlisting stage of recruitment does not appear to assist in promoting diversity in hiring.

Analysis and Commentary

Enough To Buy Back The Product

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I was on an email discussion this morning with some free-market economists and some economically literate fans of free markets.

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