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

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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.

Analysis and Commentary

John Ross On Legal Issues

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, May 31, 2020

If you’ve been following the Minneapolis police handling of George Floyd, you probably also know that police mistreatment of people–white people as well as black people–is not a new issue. One of the reasons is the lenient way courts and juries often treat policemen who badly hurt or even kill innocent, or relatively innocent, people.

Analysis and Commentary

Milton Friedman On H-1B Visas

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, May 29, 2020

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman characterized the H-1B visa as a government subsidy program the year before. Socialism for the rich. So writes Pedro Gonzalez, “Don’t Bother Learning Code,” American Mind, May 27.

Analysis and Commentary

Caplan Nails It On Pay Cuts

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Why then are nominal pay cuts suddenly on the table? You could say, “Workers have suddenly become more logical,” but as far as I can tell, they’re crazier than ever.

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Classical Liberalism Was Born And Thrived During Pandemics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 27, 2020

There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic,” The Atlantic proudly declared in March. The message, echoed often since then, has been the same: classical liberals (henceforth in this essay simply referred to as “liberals”) have no place in this world. A global pandemic must be met with global action, which can only be coordinated by governments. Individualism and liberalism are unable to solve the problem because of externalities or just plain selfishness.

Analysis and Commentary

Hummel On Whether To Expect Higher Inflation

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

About a month ago, I called Jeff Hummel, a monetary economist and economics professor at San Jose State University, to ask him whether he thought there would be a substantial increase in inflation due to the substantial drop in real GDP with no drop in the money supply. MV = Py. M increases, y falls, and so P (the price level) must rise, assuming V is relatively constant. As you’ll see below, V has fallen, which means that maybe P doesn’t have to rise much.

Analysis and Commentary

The Casualness Of Federal Government Spending

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, May 24, 2020

Larry Summers disappoints. One upsetting fact is that a number of well-known economists seem to casually favor such huge spending without considering the details or effects. And even though one economist, former Clinton and Obama adviser Larry Summers, has expressed concern about the bad effects, he favored the CARES Act anyway and appears to favor Pelosi’s bill.

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The 'Casualness' of Federal Government Spending

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, May 21, 2020

We should expect better from our politicians--and from our economists. 

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