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

Trump's Shocking Trade Preferences

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 26, 2018

I knew that Donald Trump has long been suspicious of international trade and has worn his uninformed anti-trade preferences as a badge of honor. I’ve argued with pro-Trump friends that his proposed replacement for NAFTA is good only because it isn’t as bad on trade as I feared it would be: it will, if passed, reduce gains from trade for both sides, but not as much as I had feared.

Analysis and Commentary

The Wrong Lesson

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, November 25, 2018

My state senator, who is also majority leader of the California Senate, is Bill Monning. We’ve generally gotten along well, having been on a panel on the Iraq war at our daughters’ school in the spring of 2003 and having both spoken at an antiwar rally last decade. We were on the same side on both issues.

Analysis and Commentary

How To Push For Freedom

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hint: Don’t talk about freedom.

Analysis and Commentary

How I Learned Classical Music From Cartoons And TV

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 23, 2018

One of my favorite professors at the University of Western Ontario when I took a year of advanced undergrad and one grad economics classes there in 1971-72 was John Palmer. John posted a graphic today showing that a large percent of Americans got their exposure to classical music from cartoons. That’s true of me too.

Analysis and Commentary

AARP Opens The Window On Social Security Reform

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A few years ago, I succumbed and joined the AARP. My economic interest overcame my ideology: by joining, I would save more on one optometrist appointment than the annual fee.

Analysis and Commentary

19th Century France Was More Free Trade Than Britain

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The quotes that follow are from “Conversations with Tyler: John Nye.” I’ve enjoyed a huge percent of these conversations between Tyler Cowen and various people. But this is by far my favorite for the insights of the guest. The whole thing is well worth reading.

Analysis and Commentary

Armen Alchian's Prescient Advice To China

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 19, 2018

I’ve now finished working my way through the over 1,600 pages of Armen Alchian’s writing. (Note to self: when you agree to write a book review, keep in mind the book you’re reviewing. When I went back to the original email offer, I found that I was asked to review the single-volume 523-page Economic Forces at Work. Oh, well. Not the optimal use of my time, but not that far from optimal: I learned a lot and seeing Armen’s mind at work led to some nice memories of being in his class in 1972.)

Analysis and Commentary

Freedom Of The Press And Of Speech: True And False

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 16, 2018

Is freedom of the press a right or a privilege? Ted Olson thinks it’s a privilege. Why CNN should have lost and Dennis Prager should lose. I haven’t seen such a muddled discussion of freedom of speech and of the press in a long time. On the left, we have CNN and others claiming that freedom of the press means that Jim Acosta can’t legally have his White House press pass revoked. On the right, we have Dennis Prager claiming that by not showing some of his videos, various private firms are denying his freedom of speech.

Analysis and Commentary

Schrodinger's Immigrant

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, November 15, 2018

In a post this morning, Cafe Hayek’s Don Boudreaux points out the contradiction in opposing immigrants because they work and opposing them because they go on welfare, that is, don’t work. Jon Murphy, a Ph.D. student at George Mason University, where Don teaches, and a frequent commenter on this site (as well as an Econlib Feature Article author) sums it up beautifully.

Office HoursFeatured

Office Hours: David Henderson On Smart Climate Change Policies

by David R. Hendersonvia PolicyEd
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hoover Institution Research Fellow David Henderson responds to your questions on how to identify smart climate change policies.

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