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

How Socialized Medicine Creates Dependence

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 5, 2018

The bad news is that socialized medicine creates dependence. The good news is that you can choose otherwise.

Analysis and Commentary

Benefits Of The American Revolution

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

It has become de rigueur, even among libertarians and classical liberals, to denigrate the benefits of the American Revolution. Thus, libertarian Bryan Caplan writes: “Can anyone tell me why American independence was worth fighting for?… [W]hen you ask about specific libertarian policy changes that came about because of the Revolution, it’s hard to get a decent answer.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson's First Law Of Econometrics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 2, 2018

When I was a colleague of Richard Thaler at the University of Rochester in the late 1970s, I learned from him Thaler’s First Law of Dieting. The law: Don’t eat beyond the point where it hurts. Somehow, for someone who won the Nobel prize for his insights about people’s limitations in acting rationally, that law seems particularly a propos. I think I asked him what his second law is and that he answered that he didn’t have one.

Analysis and Commentary

A Partial Defense Of Wayne Crews

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 2, 2018

Crews’s study also makes category mistakes, such as classifying time spent preparing tax forms or waiting in security lines as a “cost to GDP,” akin to costs of environmental or occupational safety regulations. In fact, there is no probative evidence that time spent in airport security reduces GDP compared to the alternative of no airport security, or that the time spent filling out tax forms reduces GDP compared to what it would be if no one bothered to file or pay taxes.

Analysis and Commentary

Does Direct To Consumer Advertising Of Antidepressants Increase Net Value?

by David R. Hendersonvia The Library of Economics and Liberty
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Yes. Bradley Shapiro, an MIT economics Ph.D. and an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, has completed a study of direct to consumer advertising (DTCA) of antidepressants. He's also written a summary of his research for the Cato Institute.

Analysis and Commentary

Is This Right On Global Warming?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Over at the Cato Institute’s blog, Cato at Liberty, climate scientist Patrick J. Michaels recently wrote: Even though this [the melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet] seemed like a very remote possibility, we can now confidently say that human-induced climate change cannot make it happen.

Analysis and Commentary

CPI Overstates Inflation Even More Than We Thought

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Using a new dataset on e-commerce transactions in many categories of goods from Adobe Analytics, we calculated matched-model inflation and explored the importance of new products. Combining the two, the true Adobe DPI inflation rate — adjusted for new goods — was more than 3 percentage points per year lower than the CPI inflation rate for the same categories from 2014–2017.

Analysis and Commentary

Still Mine

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Monday, June 25, 2018

I’ve been recovering from eye surgery since Thursday afternoon and so have spent more time than usual watching TV. (The World Cup soccer, by the way, has been really fun; I loved Germany’s last-minute win with a beautiful set-piece goal yesterday.) Last night my wife and I watched “Still Mine,” a movie that I hadn’t heard about. It’s based on a true story.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On Radical Markets

by David R. Hendersonvia The Library of Economics and Liberty
Thursday, June 21, 2018

In Radical Markets, University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner and Microsoft senior researcher Glen Weyl propose a radical restructuring of property rights, immigration policy, and voting, as well as a substantial change in corporate law.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On Pinker

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Thursday, June 21, 2018

Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now is, quite simply, a fantastic book. In this fact-filled and incredibly well-footnoted tome, Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor, shows how the conditions of life for ordinary people have gotten much better, not just for those in wealthy countries but also for most people around the world.

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