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

FDR Understood That Incentives And Property Rights Matter

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In the 1936 election, Roosevelt claimed that 85 percent of the newspapers were against him. In the standard work on the subject, historian Graham J. White finds that the actual percentage was much lower and the print press generally gave FDR balanced news coverage, but most editorialists and columnists were indeed opposed to the administration. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Big Problem With The Ultimatum Game

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I'm enjoying some reading for a conference I'm going to later this week. Two of the readings are by Matt Ridley. I loved the first; I don't love the second.

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Flawed Climate Models

by David R. Henderson, Charles L. Hoopervia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The relationship between CO2 and temperature is more complicated than the polemics suggest.

Analysis and Commentary

The Economics Of Political Balderdash

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, April 3, 2017

It would not be a satisfactory economic explanation to simply hypothesize that Trump is an idiot in the sense of being cognitively impaired. As David Friedman reminds us, it is better to assume that Trump--or any other politician--is a rational individual who uses effective means to reach his self-interested goals. This is true even if Trump is ignorant of the finer, and less fine, points of social theory and political philosophy.

Analysis and Commentary

Would You Pay $43 For The Right To Extract A Barrel Of Oil When The Market Price Is $43?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 2, 2017

The title of this post is not a trick question. I think the obvious answer is no. But William P. Shughart III, co-author of a recent policy analysis, says yes.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On NAFTA And Mercantilism

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Those statements are true. But they leave out something just as important: If NAFTA were eliminated, not just U.S. tariffs and restrictions on Canadian exports, but also Canada's tariffs and restrictions on Canada's imports would rise.

Analysis and Commentary

Hooper And Henderson Do Want The FDA Another Way

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

In a comment on my co-blogger Alberto Mingardi's post on the FDA, AlanG writes: FDA has to evaluate new drugs based on their risk/benefit profile. Large clinical trials of new vaccines destined to be administered to healthy children are required to really understand what risks might be present. Would you want this any other way?

Analysis and Commentary

An Optimistic View On Deregulation's Prospects

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

My thesis is as follows: Gains from exchange contain the seeds of their own expansion. When economists and other intellectuals provide evidence that deregulation increases gains from exchange, either these intellectuals, bureaucrats, or others often draw on this evidence to seek deregulation. They don't always succeed, but they do sometimes, and one success can lead to others.

Analysis and Commentary

Best Two Paragraphs Of My Weekend Reading

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, March 26, 2017

The turning point came in 1758. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting [of Quakers] recorded a "unanimous concern" against "the practice of importing, buying, selling, or keeping slaves for term of life." This was the first success for the cause of abolition anywhere in the Western world. "The history of the early abolitionist movement," writes historian Arthur Zilversmit, "is essentially the record of Quaker antislavery activities."

Analysis and Commentary

Restless Judge Posner

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

Probably the best-known current federal judge who is not a Supreme Court justice is Richard Posner. He has been a judge on the 7th Circuit since 1981. Posner is known for his judicial decisions, his crystal-clear writing style in those decisions, and his prodigious output: over 40 books and hundreds of articles in law reviews, economics journals, and popular publications.

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