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

Trump's Unemployment Tweet

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 3, 2018

As most economists who follow the unemployment statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics probably know, President Trump broke with a strong tradition by tweeting, over an hour before the official release date, a hint about what the statistics would be.

Henderson On BBC On Trade War

by David R. Henderson
Sunday, June 3, 2018

I got a text from BBC late Saturday afternoon asking me if they could interview me for an early Sunday morning (London time) segment on Trump's tariffs and the possibility of a trade war. They recorded it and, I believe, used about 75% of what I said.

Analysis and Commentary

Warriors Moneyball

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, June 2, 2018

The 15 minutes between the end of the second quarter and start of the third are a carefully choreographed production, featuring clips of game footage, wardrobe changes and managerial strategies straight out of business school. Coach Steve Kerr, based on interviews with players and coaches, has worked to create an environment of inclusion. 

Analysis and Commentary

Why Is The CEA So Effective?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Over the 34 years since I was a senior economist with the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), I've compared notes with other senior economists who worked there at different times--a few earlier than me, but most later (and often much later) than me.

Analysis and Commentary

Caplan On Education

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

As I noted earlier, I've prepared for a colloquium at Milton and Rose Friedman's summer home, Capitaf, that happens next month. I went through various chapters of both Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose thoroughly to see whether they held up. The majority do

Analysis and Commentary

The Scary Economics Of Illegal Fentanyl

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The opioids as a class have what is known as a "narrow therapeutic window," where the "window" is the range between the median effective dose (ED50) - the dose that's has the desired effect in half the population - and the median lethal dose (LD50). The larger the LD50/ED50 ratio (the wider the "window") the safer the drug will be in terms of overdose risk.

Analysis and Commentary

Friedman On Ending Government Programs

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 28, 2018

I'm working my way through chapters of both Milton Friedman's 1962 book, Capitalism and Freedom and Milton and Rose Friedman's 1980 book, Free to Choose, to prepare for a colloquium next month at Capitaf (the Friedman's summer home in Vermont that they bought with royalties from Capitalism and Freedom.) I'll be a discussion leader with students from the University of Arkansas.

Analysis and Commentary

Robert Poole On Airline Deregulation

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bob Poole of the Reason Foundation has written an outstanding article on airline deregulation. He gives a nice history of the issue, filled with lots of facts about the effects of deregulation and about where we need to go next: pricing landings better and following countries like Canada in getting rid of our antiquated socialist (pardon the redundancy) system of air traffic control.

Analysis and Commentary

Remember Your Goal

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, May 24, 2018

A few months ago, various people, presumably in response to Jordan Peterson's book, came up with their 12 rules for living. I could do the same, but instead my co-author Charley Hooper and I wrote a whole book on it: Making Great Decisions in Business and Life.

Analysis and Commentary

Douglas Irwin On Trump's Views On Trade

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

On Monday I attended an outstanding talk at the Hoover Institution given by Dartmouth University economics professor Doug Irwin. He hit some highlights of his recent book, Clashing Over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy, and also talked at some length about President Trump's views on trade. Although Doug was, not surprisingly, critical of Trump, he didn't take any cheap shots. Rather, he, using PowerPoint, showed statements that Trump had made about trade and showed why they didn't make sense

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