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

Gordon Tullock Bio

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, March 30, 2018

In my retirement, I am catching up on bios of famous economists, typically those who have died and/or those who won the Nobel Prize, for The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.

Analysis and Commentary

Wise Wager?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, March 29, 2018

My wife and I were catching up on recorded episodes of Jeopardy last night and were stunned by what happened--both how one contestant bet and by Alex Trebek's comment about his bet.

Analysis and Commentary

Britschgi On Mass Transit

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Reason assistant editor Christian Britschgi has posted an excellent piece critiquing another piece in the New York Times by writer Steven Hill.

Salinas Event On Immigration

by David R. Henderson
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Immigration: Bane or blessing? That's the title of an event that I'll be speaking at in Salinas late this afternoon and early this evening. 

Analysis and Commentary

Cowen Clarifies A Little On Subways

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

In my review of Tyler Cowen's The Complacent Class, I wrote: Disappointingly, in light of the problems caused by lack of tolls, Cowen cites that highway system as a big success.

Analysis and Commentary

Who Has A Right To Your Body?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, March 25, 2018

On Facebook on March 14, the day of the student walkout over guns, I posted the following: I think the student walkout is a great idea. I would just like to see it extended. Walk out for the rest of the year. I said it partly in jest and partly because I meant it. My friend economist Jack Tatom replied and there was a back and forth.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On How We Dodged A Bullet

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, March 24, 2018

Steensland would probably dislike the title of this review. The reason is that he sees the defeat in the U.S. Senate of Nixon's proposed Family Assistance Plan, which the House of Representatives passed in 1970 by a vote of 243-155, not as dodging a bullet but, on the contrary, as a huge lost opportunity. But one doesn't have to agree with his perspective to learn from his book.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On George Melloan

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We can thank [Bob] Bartley for making supply-side economics understandable, popular, and influential. Supply-side economics, as he and other Journal writers describe it, is the idea that high marginal tax rates discourage work, saving, and investment. It still shocks me how little emphasis academic economists placed on that insight before Bartley came along.

Analysis and Commentary

Uber Scam?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, March 17, 2018

I'm a big fan of Uber. I'm in New York City this weekend and have had great success using it. The fares, though high, have been below the cab fares and the cars don't play those horrible ads that assault you in New York's Yellow cabs. Plus I had 2 good conversations with a driver from Ghana and a driver from India who's a Muslim refugee.


Identifying Smart Climate Change Policies

by David R. Henderson, John H. Cochrane via Policyed.org
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Climate change is a divisive topic, but the conversation rarely moves past the issue of whether or not the Earth is warming. A more prudent approach would be to focus on the economic benefits and costs of proposed environmental policies. That way we make sure to spend our resources in the most effective way.