David R. Henderson

Research Fellow

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

Social Security
Analysis and Commentary

Opting Out Of Social Security

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, March 6, 2017

My suggestion is that the government, before making any major changes to the Social Security formulas, first allow Americans to opt out of the system, thereby avoiding any future payroll taxes but also forfeiting any accrued benefits. 

Analysis and Commentary

East Side Sushi Celebrates Labor Market

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, March 4, 2017

My wife and I saw a very good movie on HBO last night: East Side Sushi. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it at least an 8. As well as being first-rate drama, with a little humor, it's a beautiful illustration of how free labor markets work.

Analysis and Commentary

Three Problems With Chetty's Study Of Income Mobility

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, March 3, 2017

Stanford University economist Raj Chetty claims that the American dream is fading. He may well be right, but his data on which he bases that judgment don't make his case. Alan Reynolds points this out well in a recent Cato blog post titled "Misconceptions in Raj Chetty's 'Fading American Dream.'"

Analysis and Commentary

The Perverse Effects of the Pre-Existing Condition Pricing Ban

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, March 2, 2017

Health economist John C. Goodman once said, at a talk I attended when Obamacare was being debated, "Would you want to be a patron of a restaurant that didn't want you as a customer?"

Analysis and Commentary

Stop Winning Arguments

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Institute for Humane Studies asked me to write a piece on persuasion. My post at Learn Liberty, "If you want to persuade people, stop 'winning' arguments" is the result. Normally, I don't like it when editors substitute their title for mine. But this time I did.

Analysis and Commentary

Illiberal Reformers Is Heartening

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

No, using "is" instead of "are" is not a typo. Illiberal Reformers is the title of an excellent book by Princeton University economics lecturer Thomas C. Leonard. The subtitle is "Race, Eugenics & American Economics in the Progressive Era." 

Analysis and Commentary

BLS Overstates Drop In Labor Share

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, February 27, 2017

One of the most striking and troubling patterns in the US economy in recent decades is the "declining labor share: that is, the pattern that the share of the value of output (in the nonfarm business sector) that goes to workers in the form of compensation, which includes benefits as well as wage and salary compensation, has been dropping.

Analysis and Commentary

Getting The Facts

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, February 25, 2017

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, in one standard part of an optimistic speech I gave about the modern economy and the effect of the Internet, I told a story from a 1977 Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall, that I could reasonably assume about half of my audience had seen.

Analysis and Commentary

Quinones Versus Eberstadt

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, February 24, 2017

We have demonized government and laughed at government and called it incompetent, not paid taxes to support it. 

Analysis and Commentary

Kenneth Arrow, RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Yesterday, Nobel Prize winning economist Kenneth Arrow died. Many first-rate appreciations of him have been published and I won't try to duplicate what they have said.