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

Wisdom From Armen Alchian

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Public [government] ownership must be borne by all members of the public, and no member can divest himself of that ownership. Ownership of public property is not voluntary; it is compulsory as long as one is a member of the public. To call something “compulsory” usually is a good start toward condemning it.

Analysis and Commentary

Is Setting A Price On Drugs The Same Thing As A Price Control?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 12, 2018

An economist friend emailed me last night to ask me to sign a statement against the price controls on drugs that the Trump administration is proposing for Medicare. I said no.

Analysis and Commentary

You Didn't Build That

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 9, 2018

When former President Obama was running for re-election in 2012, he made his famous “You Didn’t Build That” speech in Roanoke, Virginia. I blogged about it back in August 2012 and got almost a record number of comments.

Analysis and Commentary

Good News On Iranian Sanctions

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 9, 2018

In anticipation of the US sanctions against Iranian oil exports, which were reimposed by the Trump Administration on Monday (along with additional sanctions on everything from Iranian shipping to banking and insurance), oil tankers bearing the Iranian flag have embraced a stealthy approach to keeping the oil flowing: They’re ‘ghosting’ international trackers by turning off their transponders, rendering the ships impossible to track by anything aside from visual cues.

Stanford Oval
Analysis and Commentary

How A Powerful Woman Limited The Number Of Stanford Women

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, November 8, 2018

After nearly a decade of dedication to coeducation at the university, Mrs. Stanford had become alarmed. Women were a minority at Stanford, but their numbers were surging. If the trend continued, she feared, the university would soon be overwhelmingly female — the “Vassar of the Pacific Coast,” as one early observer put it. “This was not my husband’s wish, nor is it mine, nor would it have been my son’s,” she told the trustees.

Analysis and Commentary

Are Matt Yglesias's Words That Wise?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Co-blogger Bryan Caplan quotes Matt Yglesias, claiming that his words are wise. Here’s what Bryan quotes: Trump’s accession to the presidency alarmed liberals on two levels.

Analysis and Commentary

Murphy On Nordhaus Versus The UN

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 5, 2018

In light of Nordhaus’s calculations shown above, the apparently urgent need for “climate action” is not so urgent. It now looks more analogous to economists discovering the theoretical possibility of an “optimal tariff” but still understanding that free trade is the safest rule of thumb.

Analysis and Commentary

The Destructive Consequences Of Socialism

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, November 4, 2018

In the early 1980s, when I was a senior economist at President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), we put out one publication annually for the public: The Economic Report of the President. The rest of the time, we spent our time analyzing and arguing about economic policy.

Analysis and Commentary

Martin Anderson's Striking Analogy On The Draft

by David R. Henderson quoting Annelise Anderson, Martin Andersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 3, 2018

I posted recently about Annelise Anderson’s reminiscences of her and her husband Martin Anderson’s role in Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign for President. She stated: The first thing that Martin did for Richard Nixon—one of the first things—it’s dated July 4, 1967—is to make the argument for abolishing the military draft and moving to an all-volunteer armed force.

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The Destructive Consequences Of Socialism

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Saturday, November 3, 2018

Trump’s CEA reports on an ideology that retards growth—and worse.

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