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 Nobel Factor: What Does The Prize Reward?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 8, 2021

Since 1996, I’ve had a deal with the editors of the Wall Street Journal. I get up early on the West Coast the day the Nobel Prize in Economic Science is announced, decide within an hour whether I know enough to write an article on the winner(s), and, if I do know enough, get the article to the editors later that morning. For 19 of the last 25 years, I’ve been able to come through.

Analysis and Commentary

Hayek On High Prices For 10 Seconds Of Work

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 8, 2021

Even economists who regard themselves as definitely immune to the crude materialist fallacies [i.e., thinking in terms of material wealth] constantly commit the same mistake where activities directed toward the acquisition of such practical knowledge are concerned—apparently because in their scheme of things all such knowledge is supposed to be “given.”

Policy StoriesFeatured

The Inequality We Should Worry About

by David R. Hendersonvia PolicyEd
Tuesday, April 6, 2021

There is an important distinction between good and bad income inequality.

Analysis and Commentary

Deadweight Loss Computations

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, April 5, 2021

Some brief but straightforward algebra.

Analysis and Commentary

The Case Against High Marginal Tax Rates

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 4, 2021

President Biden will soon present his proposal for increasing income tax rates and tax rates on capital gains on high-income people. He also proposes to raise the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent from its current level of 21 percent. I would not be directly affected by the first two proposals: my income, though high, is much lower than the income to which the higher tax rates would apply and although I have substantial capital gains, they are almost all on stocks owned in IRA-type retirement accounts. 

The Case against High Marginal Tax Rates

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Friday, April 2, 2021

Biden’s proposals would unlearn many hard-won lessons in US tax policy.

Analysis and Commentary

Africa Tries Free Trade

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Friday, April 2, 2021

With all the proposals for hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending and new taxes in the United States in recent days, there hasn’t been much good economic news.

Analysis and Commentary

Chuck Baird: A Fond Reflection

by David R. Hendersonvia undefined
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

I’ve been working with Steve Globerman on a short book on the UCLA School of Economics. It will be published by the Fraser Institute in Canada. Of course we highlight the work of Armen Alchian, Harold Demsetz, Sam Peltzman, and a few others.

Analysis and Commentary

Covid Caution And Curry

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, March 29, 2021

On March 17, my favorite NBA player, Steph Curry shot a 3-pointer and then, as is his wont, backpedalled. The problem: he was backpedalling off the sideline instead of down the court and there was no barrier to stop him. In a normal game, there would have been some normal barrier to stop his going backward, whether the barrier be other chairs that players were sitting on or something else.

Analysis and Commentary

Charles Ball's Humanity

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, March 28, 2021

I participated in a Liberty Fund colloquium on Zoom Friday and Saturday on the topic “Slavery and the New History of Capitalism.” It went very well.