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

Customs Officer Discovers Effects Of International Trade

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, February 3, 2019

About a week after I was made a Commissioner of the Customs, upon looking over the list of prohibited goods, (which is hung up in every Customhouse and which is well worth your considering) and upon examining my own wearing apparel, I found, to my great astonishment, that I had scarce a stock, a cravat, a pair of ruffles, or a pocket handkerchief which was not prohibited to be worn or used in G. Britain. 

Analysis and Commentary

Good News On Employment

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, February 1, 2019

The latest data (for January) on employment and unemployment came out this morning and the news is good. The biggest news: The labor force participation rate, which has been the sick puppy this century, rose by 0.1 percentage point, from 63.1 percent to 63.2 percent. The employment to population ratio rose by 0.1 percentage point, from 60.6 percent to 60.7 percent.

Analysis and Commentary

Greg Mankiw Gets It Partly Right

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

In a blog post titled “Who is the prototypical rich person?” Greg Mankiw responds to a pretty bad New York Times op/ed by Emmanual Saez and Gabriel Zucman. I was waiting for someone to spot a pretty big error in Greg’s piece, but no one has. So I’ll point it out.

Analysis and Commentary

CBO As Agenda Setter On Tax Policy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, January 28, 2019

In December 2018, the Congressional Budget Office published a 316-page report titled Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2019 to 2028. Those reports are often useful because they can tell you the implications for the deficit of various changes in government spending and in tax law. This report is relatively comprehensive. It examines dozens of ways in which the U.S. government could cut spending and dozens of ways in which it could increase taxes. 

Analysis and Commentary

Pride And Prejudice And Violence

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, January 27, 2019

Growing up in Manitoba, I had to read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 12th grade. I read it once because I had to; the second time to answer questions on exams; the third time because I loved the book.

Analysis and Commentary

A Rare Exception

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, January 25, 2019

“More Americans believe in global warming–but they won’t pay much to fix it.” So reads the headline of an article by James Rainey on NBC News’s web site. Read the piece and see if you agree with me that that is the most important part of the article. Why? The line underneath the title says why: “Americans are unwilling to pay $10 a month to fight climate change, a survey found.”

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson's Case Against Higher Taxes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, January 24, 2019

A number of Democratic politicians—and some economists including Paul Krugman—have recently advocated substantially higher income tax rates on high-income Americans. The current top federal tax rate on income is 37 percent for married people filing jointly, and it applies to all taxable income over $612,350. The highest state income tax rate in the United States is in California, where it is 13.3 percent on taxable income over $1 million. Thus, the highest-income people in California lose over half of their incremental income to the government. 

Henderson's Case Against Higher Taxes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, January 24, 2019

A number of Democratic politicians—and some economists including Paul Krugman—have recently advocated substantially higher income tax rates on high-income Americans. The current top federal tax rate on income is 37 percent for married people filing jointly, and it applies to all taxable income over $612,350. The highest state income tax rate in the United States is in California, where it is 13.3 percent on taxable income over $1 million. 

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The Case Against Higher Tax Rates

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

On incentives, deadweight loss, and economists who should know better.

Analysis and Commentary

The Harder Question I Raise For James R. Rogers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Over at our sister publication Law & Liberty, political science professor James R. Rogers has a piece titled “The Harder Question Tucker Carlson Raises for Conservatives.” If it were a question Carlson raises only for conservatives, I would be less interested than otherwise. But Professor Rogers makes clear in the article that Carlson raises this question for libertarians too. 

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