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

Verizon Vs. USPS

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, July 7, 2017

First, I erred. My own recent experience with Verizon, while personally heartening, is not good enough evidence on how large for-profit firms respond when a customer is treated badly. Two commenters said it particularly well.

Analysis and Commentary

A Lawyer's Perry Mason Moment

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 6, 2017

When I was involved in a legal case as an expert once, one of the lawyers and I exchanged our stories about the closest we had ever seen to a Perry Mason moment in a real trial. I told her mine, which I had seen in the Bush v. Gore trial under Florida judge Sanders Sauls. (Except for bathroom breaks, I watched the thing from start to finish.) 

Analysis and Commentary

Murphy On Private Production Of Roads

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

Most Americans recognize the efficiency of private enterprise in providing goods such as computers and cars. Yet for various reasons, when it comes to roads, most people recoil from the idea of private production. Indeed, many people think that one of the essential functions of government, in addition to other tasks such as coining money and providing military defense, is to provide roads.

Analysis and Commentary

Verizon Victory!

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

Last week I posted about my very upsetting experience with Verizon. A few days later, a regular reader of EconLog, who tells me he has learned a lot from reading EconLog, wrote me about the issue. He has a fairly high-level position at Verizon and told me that he basically agreed with me that Verizon had handled it badly. 

Analysis and Commentary

Without Government Regulation Who Would Hassle Liquor Retailers?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, July 1, 2017

I grew up watching Perry Mason. Almost invariably, the person on the stand with under 5 minutes to go in the show was the one who was guilty and, again, almost invariably confessed while on the stand. It didn't take more than an 11-year old's brain to surmise that that's not how the vast majority of real-world courtroom dramas unfold.

Analysis and Commentary

Ode To iPhone

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, June 29, 2017

My former student, friend, and frequent co-author, Charley Hooper wrote the following on Facebook. He titled it "Ode to iPhone." I'm reproducing it with his permission.

Analysis and Commentary

Verizon's Unaccountability

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

As regular readers of this blog probably know, I am a strong believer in the importance of commercial accountability. One thing that makes markets work so well is that firms are accountable for their errors. They have a strong incentive to be accountable. And most of us have got used to their being accountable. So, for example, when a major firm makes a billing error, which, in my experience, doesn't happen often, it is relatively straightforward to call the firm's customer service number and get the bill altered.

Analysis and Commentary

Nancy MacLean's Distortion Of James Buchanan's Statement

by David R. Hendersonquoting Russell Robertsvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Econlib colleague Russ Roberts has pointed to a passage of Nancy MacLean's recent book, Democracy in Chains: A Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, in which Professor MacLean left key words out of a quote from Tyler Cowen, thus seriously distorting his meaning.

Analysis and Commentary

Bret Stephens's Attack On Ron Paul

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, June 26, 2017

As I noted last week, I was at an event at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco to discuss a forthcoming documentary called "Is America in Retreat?" (The video should be available in a few weeks.) The inspiration for documentary is a book with the same title written by Bret Stephens, currently a New York Times columnist and before that a foreign policy columnist with the Wall Street Journal and, before that, the editor in chief at the Jerusalem Post.

Analysis and Commentary

Are The Savings From Cutting Medicaid Illusory?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 25, 2017

Answer: It depends. Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, and also my long-time friend, reminds us of one of the most important principles in economics: There's no such thing as a free lunch. Indeed, this principle is so important that I've made it Numero Uno in my Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom. 

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