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

Best Recent Paragraph On Immigration Hassles

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Friday, June 26, 2020
An aside: when describing the above, regular, non-emigrant citizens in the US never have the slightest familiarity with what I’m talking about. These indignities are instantly familiar to even the fanciest of us developed-world middle-class immigrants, but a perpetual surprise to citizens.
Analysis and Commentary

Does Restricting Immigration Necessarily Reduce Unemployment?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Does restricting immigration necessarily reduce unemployment? In the long run, it doesn’t, as there is an infinite amount of work to be done. If you doubt that, think of another group that entered the labor force, a group that, from 1950 to 2000, was a more important entrant over that time than immigrants. The group is women.

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David Henderson On The John Batchelor Show

interview with David R. Hendersonvia The John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow David Henderson discusses his Wall Street Journal article "The Data Are In: It’s Time for Major Reopening."

Analysis and Commentary

A Minimum Wage Puzzle

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Two new studies show that giving pay raises to low-wage workers is good for consumers, too.

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Analysis and Commentary

The Twists And Turns Of Tobacco Politics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sarah Milov’s The Cigarette: A Political History is accurately subtitled. Milov, a history professor at the University of Virginia, has written a first-rate history of the interaction between tobacco companies, tobacco growers, and various levels of government over almost a century. She delves carefully into the details of those interactions and tells you more than you probably want to know about the many decades of interaction.

Analysis and Commentary

Bostock V. Clayton County, Georgia

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, June 20, 2020

I’ve read a fair amount of commentary now, most of it very good, by constitutional legal scholars about the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia. The decision is an umbrella one that covers not only the case Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia but also some cases involving other employers.

Analysis and Commentary

10 Percent Less Democracy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, June 19, 2020

One of the principles I taught my economics students the first day of class and then applied incessantly thereafter was the importance of thinking on the margin. Garett Jones, an economics professor at George Mason University, has written a whole book in which he does just that. Jones considers what would happen if we made highly democratic countries less democratic and entrusted certain political decisions more to unelected officials. If you think he’s attacking democracy, you’ll miss his point. 

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Black Livelihoods Matter

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, June 17, 2020

African Americans need economic opportunity, unconstrained by government regulation. 

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Stanford Research Fellow David Henderson Argues US Is Ready For Major Re-Opening

by David R. Hendersonvia Fox News
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Hoover Institution fellow David Henderson discusses his Wall Street Journal article "The Data Are In: It’s Time for Major Reopening."

Analysis and Commentary

The Data Are In: It’s Time For Major Reopening

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, an influential economic analysis from the University of Chicago concluded that the likely benefits of moderate social distancing would greatly exceed the resultant costs. The New York Times and the Washington Post recently cited that study as evidence that the use of strict lockdowns to control the virus’s spread has been justified, and that current efforts to “open up” social and economic activity around the U.S. are dangerous and irresponsible. 

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