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

The Mule

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, August 4, 2019

My wife and I rented the recent Clint Eastwood movie, The Mule, last night. I would give it an 8 out of 10. At various points, we paused and talk about the fact that we had no idea where the movie would go. Once it ended the way it did, it was plausible, but I wouldn’t have necessarily predicted that.

Analysis and Commentary

Casey Mulligan On Trump Versus Reagan

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, August 2, 2019

University of Chicago economics professor Casey Mulligan, fresh off his one-year stint as chief economist with President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, has an interesting comparison of Trump vs. Reagan on economic deregulation.

Analysis and Commentary

Kevin O'Leary's Separation Theorem

by David R. Hendersonvia The Library of Economics and Liberty
Thursday, August 1, 2019

The principle that, given perfect competition and complete markets, the productive decision is to be governed solely by the objective market criterion represented by attained wealth–without regard to the individuals’ subjective preferences that enter into their consumptive decisions–will appear repeatedly throughout this study. We will call this principle the Separation Theorem.

Analysis and Commentary

Reflections On The Democratic Debate

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

I watched some of the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate last night and some of the discussion afterwards on CNN and Fox, and read a few highlights this morning.

Analysis and Commentary

Laura Ling On Sanctions On North Korea

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 29, 2019

“We don’t like living without electricity and water,” she went on. “We know we are not a rich country. But it is the United States that has put sanctions on us and has deprived us of these things. What did we ever do to the United States?” Paris wasn’t the only person I’d spoken with who blamed the U.S. sanctions for North Korea’s lack of electricity. 

Analysis and Commentary

Tyler Cowen's Failed Critique Of Cuts In State Funding

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 29, 2019

While I was on vacation up at my cottage in Canada, Tyler Cowen wrote a piece on the Bloomberg site that made a case for not cutting taxpayer subsidies to Alaska’s universities.

Analysis and Commentary

Biography Of Richard H. Thaler Is Online

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, July 28, 2019

Economists generally assume that more choices are better than fewer choices. But if that were so, argues Thaler, people would be upset, not happy, when the host at a dinner party removes the pre-dinner bowl of cashews. Yet many of us are happy that it’s gone. Purposely taking away our choice to eat more cashews, he argues, makes up for our lack of self-control. This simple contradiction between the economists’ model of rationality and actual human behavior, plus many more that Thaler has observed, leads him to divide the population into “Econs” and “Humans.” Econs, according to Thaler, are people who are economically rational and fit the model completely. Humans are the vast majority of people.

Analysis and Commentary

Britain Is An Outlaw Nation

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, July 26, 2019

From Britain’s Daily Telegraph (reprinted in Canada’s National Post, Thursday, July 25, 2019: Hassan Rouhini, Iran’s president, said Wednesday that if Britain reversed its “wrong actions, including what they did in Gibraltar” then “they will receive a proper response from Iran.”

Analysis and Commentary

One Giant Leap

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 22, 2019

At Tyler Cowen’s recommendation, I bought One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon,by Charles Fishman. I recommend it, with reservations.

Analysis and Commentary

Somewhere Inside Humanity

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 18, 2019

I told Min-Jin that Iain and I met at a concert while in college. I couldn’t figure out how to describe the sounds of the Chemical Brothers. Just then, Min-Jin started singing some Western songs, beginning with “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion. It seemed that everyone, no matter how isolated their society is, knows the movie Titanic and the song that goes with it.

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