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

Of Diet Cokes And Brain-Focused Economics

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

Mullainathan believes he has found a choice bias that undercuts the standard economist's claim that people are rational. But has he? At first glance, his choice not to experiment doesn't make sense. But I think Mullainathan is more rational than he thinks he is. Why? Because the critically scarce resource, which he doesn't mention, is his brain.

Analysis and Commentary

Compassionate Jordan Peterson

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

I've watched the whole 30-minute interview of Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson by the BBC's Cathy Newman twice. Like many people, I was impressed by his ability to handle her questions and keep his cool. But when I showed it to a friend in Miami last week who knew nothing about him, we stopped after the 3-minute point because we found it so profound.

Analysis and Commentary

An Intruder Confesses

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, March 3, 2018

Al Norman has been fighting to keep Walmart and other big-box retailers out of small towns like this one for 25 years. He's been successful in Greenfield, his hometown and the site of his first battle with Walmart, and in dozens of other towns across the country--victories he documents on his website Sprawl-Busters, an "International Clearinghouse on Big Box Anti-Sprawl Information." 

Analysis and Commentary

Senator Flake's Version Of Due Process

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, March 1, 2018

I got a late start today and so, instead of watching an uninteresting show about the coming NFL draft on my favorite sports channel, ESPN, I watched the CBS morning show. Big mistake. I hadn't watched it in decades and I was quickly reminded why.

Analysis and Commentary

Of Ad Hominems And Incentives

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

Sometimes people ask me for examples of ad hominems and I have trouble finding nice clean examples. (A couple of commenters pointed out that the example I gave is an example of poisoning the well which is a form of ad hominem.

Analysis and Commentary

Caplan Versus Hanushek

by David R. Hendersonfeaturing Eric Hanushekvia EconLog
Monday, February 26, 2018

I watched the whole of the debate at the American Enterprise Institute between Bryan Caplan and Eric Hanushek and found it fascinating. It's one of the best debates I've seen in a while: neither of the debaters used debating tricks, they focused on the issue they were supposed to be debating, and they brought a lot of relevant evidence and arguments to the debate.

Analysis and Commentary

Roberts And Peterson On Human Connection

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

I think of most of my close friendships and how I can remember a particular conversation that started them, where one of us said something and the other responded in a way that showed that he had truly gotten it, not just intellectually but, often, emotionally. Russ Roberts mentions his wife.

Analysis and Commentary

A Balanced View Of Trump

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

I rarely find a balanced view of Trump. I gave one about a month ago. I've now found another.

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Income Inequality Isn’t The Problem

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Disparities are shrinking because millions are being lifted out of poverty each month. 

Olympic Gold Medal
Analysis and Commentary

I Love The Olympics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, February 19, 2018

I've heard many people on Facebook and elsewhere talk about how politicized the 2018 Olympics are. In this case, though, I think politics is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, I thought that Mike Pence had incredibly bad manners in standing only for the U.S. team at the opening ceremonies. And some of the mainstream media went gaga over the sister of North Korea's chief murderer. But if you choose to focus on that, that's your choice.