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

Sunstein Backs Down On Libertarian Marriage

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In the most recent Econ Journal Watch, Cass Sunstein states that he has changed his mind about one of the most libertarian proposals he and co-author Richard Thaler make in their book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I reviewed their book in the Summer 2008 issue of Regulation.

Analysis and Commentary

The Nightmare In Your Future

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The title of this post is the subtitle of a talk I gave in about 2004 at Santa Clara University. The whole title was "Social Security: The Nightmare in Your Future." I had two goals: (1) to get students paying attention to how much they were likely to pay in Social Security taxes for not very good benefits--I also threw in Medicare, which was worse; and (2) to get them to think seriously about ending Social Security and Medicare, both of which I called "intergenerational abuse."

Analysis and Commentary

Joseph Schumpeter On The Decline Of Applebee's

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, June 5, 2017

"Now there's many, many options that people are replacing chains with," Victor Fernandez, the executive director of insights at the restaurant-industry tracker TDn2K, recently told Business Insider. Many of these options involve cooking at home.

Analysis and Commentary

Trade Deficit Or Stuff Surplus?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, June 5, 2017

Notice that if imports exceed exports, as they have done for decades in the United States, then, on net, more dollars leave the United States by Americans' purchases of imports than come in by Americans' sales of exports. Such a situation is termed a current-account deficit, or "trade deficit." But the terminology could just as well be formulated the other way around, in a framework of husbanding stuff.

Analysis and Commentary

Cents And Sensibility

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, June 3, 2017

Princeton University Press has recently published Cents and Sensibility: What Economics Can Learn from the Humanities. The book is by literary critic Gary Saul Morson and economist Morton Schapiro. Their basic message, as the title implies, is that economists can learn from the humanities. I'm open to that message because I already agree with it. 

Analysis and Commentary

Cook Vs. Cass On Global Warming

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, June 2, 2017

I wouldn't have even noticed the National Review debate between Oren Cass and John Cook, if a creepily worded article title at Vox hadn't caught my attention. The title: "Scientists are testing a 'vaccine' against climate change denial." The author is Michelle Nijhuis. It would be bad enough for someone to have an actual vaccine against denial of anything.

Analysis and Commentary

U.S. Immigration Has Had A Large Positive Long-Run Impact

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Our findings provide evidence that helps us better understand the impacts of immigration in United States history. The first is that, in the long-run immigration has had extremely large economic benefits. The second is that there is no evidence that these long-run benefits come at short-run costs. In fact, immigration immediately led to economic benefits for those already living in the area in the form of higher incomes, higher productivity, more innovation, and more industrialization.

Analysis and Commentary

AARP On Drug Prices

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 29, 2017

A few years ago I finally succumbed and became a member of the AARP. My reason is that it gave me a substantial discount on my eye glasses, a discount that more than paid for the annual fee. As a result I get the AARP Bulletin and occasionally read it.

Crowd at New York's American Union Bank during a bank run early in the Great Depression.
Analysis and Commentary

Tabarrok On The Great Depression

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alex Tabarrok narrates a very good video on the Great Depression. It's called "Understanding the Great Depression." In it, he applies an aggregate demand/aggregate supply framework and puts most of what happened in that framework. I have two criticisms, but they shouldn't be interpreted to mean that the video is weak: it's quite good.

Analysis and Commentary

Larry Summers Trumps Trump

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On agriculture, China reiterated a promise that it has broken in the past to let in more beef. Previously, we, as reciprocity, had been withholding publication of a permissive rule on Chinese poultry, but we have now relented. Advantage China.

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