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

State Income Tax Rates Over Time

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Illinois residents dodged a bullet on Tuesday when voters refused to change the Illinois constitution to allow state income tax rates to vary by income.
Analysis and Commentary

Look At The Long Term And Don't Focus On One Variable

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Cyril Morong, an Associate Professor of Economics at Northeast Lakeview College in Universal City, Texas, sent me a letter that he had sent to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal decided not to publish it and I got Cyril’s permission to run it here.

Analysis and Commentary

Jonathan Rauch Has A GREAT Answer

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 2, 2020

What’s the appeal to people? Obviously I agree with you when you talk about a liberal society being a good one. The idea of intellectual or ideological pluralism, I’m all in. But people who are saying, “That’s a false front for a system that is rigged against trans people, against black people, and against other types of racial, ethnic, ideological, or sexual minorities”—how do you engage them when they are not interested necessarily in hearing what you have to say?

Analysis and Commentary

The COVID/Lockdown Recession Is Over

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, October 30, 2020

And the recovery is well under way. 

Analysis and Commentary

Do Most Countries Elect Their Government Leader By Majority Rule?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Prime Minister Scheer? Co-blogger Scott Sumner, over at his own blog, themoneyillusion, writes: Other countries generally elect their president by majority vote (although a few “ceremonial” presidents are picked by an EC, as in India).

Analysis and Commentary

Manitoba COVID-19 Data

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In this video interview, Dr. Joel Kettner, formerly the Manitoba government’s chief public health officer, presents some striking statistics and commentary.

Analysis and Commentary

Tyler Cowen Doubles Down

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 26, 2020

I criticized (here and here) a recent article that Tyler Cowen wrote in Bloomberg about COVID-19 and lockdowns. Last week he doubled down by raising the issue of the elderly. The title fits his theme, is “Yes, Covid-19 Is More Serious for the Elderly. So What?”

Analysis and Commentary

Illinois Restaurants Collude To Expand Output

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, October 25, 2020

Seventy local businesses met Thursday night, agreeing to keep serving customers indoors despite a new state order, a Bradley restaurant owner said.

Analysis and Commentary

How Much Should Young People Be Punished?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, October 24, 2020

Great debate on lockdowns. I like what retired Professor John A. Lee has to say. Economist Dan O’Brien is also very succinct: How much punishment are we willing to inflict on young people?

Analysis and Commentary

Managing And Mismanaging The Covid Shock

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, October 23, 2020

An important lesson from both economic analysis and economic history is that when people are relatively unregulated and free to adjust, they can adjust quickly to various economic shocks, even large ones. But when governments heavily regulate people’s economic activities, these governments slow and often prevent adjustments. The good news is that in 2020, the federal government and many state and local governments have temporarily relaxed regulations to make adjustment easier. 

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