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

In the News

Bill Whalen And David Henderson Conversation

featuring David R. Henderson, Bill Whalenvia USSA News
Saturday, June 13, 2020

On June 4, my Hoover colleague Bill Whalen interviewed me about my latest article for Hoover’s Defining Ideas, “Just Say No to State & Local Bailouts,” June 3. I had heard and seen a talk by Bill on Zoom a week earlier and was impressed with his deep knowledge of California politics. His show is titled “Area 45.” 

Analysis and Commentary

Why Don't People Speak Up?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, June 12, 2020

I posted on Facebook a few days ago about the bullying that Justin Wolfers and other economists are doing to try to get an editor of the Journal of Political Economy fired. I start by saying that I don’t know if he should be fired. I don’t know enough about how good an editor he is, which, in my view, is the only thing that should matter. Justin hasn’t made a case that he’s a bad editor. 

Analysis and Commentary

AEA Admits It Doesn't Know The Literature

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Thursday, June 11, 2020
This is an astounding statement from the “officers and governance committees of the American Economic Association,” published June 5.
Analysis and Commentary

Health Professionals Show What Matters. Hint: It's Not Health

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, June 11, 2020

Are the signers unaware of their double standard? Their statement above shows that they are quite aware. The standard is not health, which is supposed to be their area of expertise. No. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Detroit Cops' Violent Attack On Black Capitalism

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A lot of people who write about the Detroit riot of 1967 have missed what was in plain sight. The Kerner Commission’s report of 1968, which examined the causes of the riot, laid out some important facts but missed their significance.

Analysis and Commentary

Roy A. Childs Jr. On Police And Social Workers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 7, 2020

A lot of people are talking lately about how badly police treat minorities, particularly black people. I want to share some thoughts from my late friend Roy A. Childs, Jr. Roy, for those of you who don’t know, was an important figure in the libertarian movement from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. Tragically, he died in May 1992 at age 43. He became famous while still a teen as a result of his writing the famous “Open Letter to Ayn Rand.” 

Analysis and Commentary

Why The Drop In Unemployment Did Not Surprise Me

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, June 5, 2020

Yesterday on Facebook, I commented on someone’s post that I expected the unemployment rate for May reported today to be below 15 percent. I was right. It declined from 14.7 percent to 13.3 percent.

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Area 45: David Henderson: Pandemics & “Never-Ending Pasta Bowls”

interview with David R. Hendersonvia Area 45
Thursday, June 4, 2020

Should Washington come to the rescue of several of the nation’s largest states?

Analysis and Commentary

Just Say No To State & Local Bailouts

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, June 4, 2020

Why is the HEROES bailout so much greater than the states’ losses? Simple: State governments would likely use a large part of the bailout money to make up for shortfalls in their funds for state government pensions. In April, Illinois Senate Democrats, for example, asked Congress for a bailout of over $40 billion, $10 billion of which would go the state pension fund. 

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Just Say No To State & Local Bailouts

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The best way to help states with big budget troubles is to hold their politicians’ feet to the fire.