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

Analysis and Commentary

Stephen Moore's Deficient History Of Federal Reserve Policy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Over at Alt-M, Cato Institute monetary economist George Selgin writes: To conclude: despite what Stephen Moore has written, there’s no evidence that either Paul Volcker or any later Fed chair ever deliberately “linked Fed monetary policy to real-time changes in commodity prices.”

Policy InsightsFeatured

Policy Insights: Immigration Reform

featuring Edward Paul Lazear, Timothy Kane, David R. Henderson, Tom Church, John H. Cochrane , Lanhee J. Chen, Clint Bolick, Richard A. Epsteinvia PolicyEd
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Immigration is a contentious topic. To complicate it further, immigration should often be broken down into several distinct topics. It can mean legal or illegal immigration, it can mean permanent or temporary visas, and it can mean preventing future flows or managing existing stocks.

Analysis and Commentary

Richard Posner Is Wrong On Billy Budd

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, March 25, 2019

I just finished watching Django Unchained this weekend and I highly recommend it. One of the things that helped me enjoy it fully is the idea that anything a slave does to those who enslave him, even up to killing the enslavers and the enablers of the enslavers, is justified. That’s a view I’m quite comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with it, you probably will not get the pleasure out of Django Unchained that I did.

Analysis and Commentary

The Chemistry Of Ethanol

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, March 24, 2019

As you know if you’ve followed ethanol in the last decade, the federal government requires a certain amount of ethanol in gasoline. Glen Whitman, a friend on Facebook, posted the following and gave me permission to post on EconLog.

Stanford Oval
Analysis and Commentary

Dinesh D'Souza And Critical Students Have Civilized Dialogue

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, March 23, 2019

I’ve seen multiple YouTube videos of Q&A sessions when Dinesh D-Souza gives talks at universities. He often gets his share of hostile comments and I wondered how he would be treated at Stanford when he spoke there last month. So I watched the first few minutes of his speech and then jumped to Q&A. The talk is titled “The moral case for Trump’s wall.” It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: I’m not a fan of the wall.

Analysis and Commentary

Oregon Government Rips Off Workers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, March 22, 2019

One myth – perpetuated by the National Employment Law Project – is that state mandates expand opportunity to retirement savings, especially for low-income workers. They don’t. OregonSaves initially defaults worker contributions into a conservative capital preservation fund before redirecting contributions to a life-cycle fund once balances exceed $1,000. Since inception in 2004, the capital preservation fund has offered a paltry nominal return of 1.52% (essentially an inflation-adjusted return of 0%).


David Henderson: The Passing Of Princeton Economist Alan Krueger And The Thinking On Minimum Wages And Income Inequality

interview with David R. Hendersonvia The John Batchelor Show
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow David Henderson discusses his Econlog article "Alan Krueger RIP."

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On Unintended Consequences Of Grounding The Boeing 737 Max

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The two recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max airplanes with the deaths of all aboard were tragic. It’s understandable that government agencies around the world, with the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency being the last, have grounded all 737 Max airplanes until they know more.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Turbulence At Boeing

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The 737 Max, Auto Seat-belts, and Unintended Consequences


David Henderson On The Lars Larson National Podcast (1:29:45)

interview with David R. Hendersonvia Lars Larson National Podcast
Monday, March 18, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow David Henderson discusses whether an increase in legal immigration would help the US.