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

Analysis and Commentary

The CMS Is Right And The WSJ Is Wrong

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 16, 2022

Last month, in an editorial titled “Sandbagging a Alzheimer’s Treatment,” the Wall Street Journal editors criticized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for refusing to pay for Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm.

Analysis and Commentary

Child Subsidies Versus More Immigration

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 9, 2022

This weekend I watched a CBS Sunday Morning show that I had taped a few weeks ago. There was a fairly depressing segment on the cost of child care versus the amount of money a parent, typically a woman, could make. The solution that one of the interviewees advocated was higher government subsidies for children. 

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Don’t Just Stand There: Undo Something

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, May 5, 2022

Governments are perennially tempted to “do something” by increasing taxes, spending, and regulation. A better approach: less is more.

moral compass
Analysis and Commentary

The Importance Of Being Ethical

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

On April 20, I attended a talk given at Stanford University by Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson. It started with a one-hour taping of an interview of Peterson by master interviewer Peter Robinson. Then it went to Q&A.

Analysis and Commentary

Who's Responsible For Student Loans?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 28, 2022

A meme on Facebook has been viral in the last 24 hours. It states: “If your liberal arts degree doesn’t have enough value for you to pay it off, it certainly doesn’t have enough value for me to pay it off.”

In the News

Notable & Quotable: Cherry Picking Poverty Stats

quoting David R. Hendersonvia The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, April 27, 2022

[Subscription Required] ‘They focus only on the part that they can arguably attribute, at least in part, to the huge federal subsidies in 2020.’

Analysis and Commentary

Don't Destroy What's Good

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Friday, April 22, 2022

Currently, Walt Disney Corporation has a special status in Florida that allows it to avoid many regulations and some taxes and fees.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson's Criticisms And Appreciations Of John Kenneth Galbraith

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 20, 2022

I’ve been in a discussion on Facebook in the last few days on the topic of John Kenneth Galbraith. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the three economists that were most well-known were Galbraith on the left, Paul Samuelson on the center left, and Milton Friedman on the libertarian end.

Analysis and Commentary

Good News On Employment

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Tuesday, April 19, 2022

My latest issue (March) of “Economic Indicators,” prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers for the U.S. Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, arrived on Saturday. It’s always fun (and sometimes scary, especially for federal government spending) to go through it and look at the data.

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A Tax-Based Attack On Capital And Labor

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, April 14, 2022

The falsely named “billionaire tax” undercuts incentives to invest, to the detriment of all.