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

Self-Destructive Democrats Or Incentives At Work?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, October 6, 2018

I’ve heard, or seen on Facebook, a number of people talking about how the Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee overplayed their hands with the Ford/Kavanaugh controversy. They were too hostile and too accepting of Ford’s claims at face value, goes the argument. And it backfired on them. They didn’t get their way. Kavanaugh will be sworn in to the Supreme Court today.

Analysis and Commentary

Politics In The Classroom

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, October 5, 2018

I’ve followed a number of discussions on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet about the desirability, or lack thereof, of professors discussing politics on the classroom. My impression, although I didn’t literally count, is that virtually every professor who is somewhat libertarian and who has discussed the issue thinks it’s a bad idea to do so.

Analysis and Commentary

The Current Job Market

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

On the way up to Hoover early this morning to do the CNBC interview (it didn’t happen because a traffic accident on Highway 17 slowed me down by half an hour), I caught up on phone calls with long-distance friends. One of them had a story about his employees that’s worth sharing. It illustrates part of what I probably would have talked about in my CNBC interview.

Analysis and Commentary

I Love The 21st Century

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

So said Texas A&M economist Jonathan Meer in a private message that he has allowed me to share. Here’s the story that prompted it. It’s short and so I’ll quote only briefly: So to recap: At 10am on Friday, the windshield on this Tacoma was destroyed. An hour later, a replacement was located, which was then shipped across three states and 750 miles to Salt Lake City, where it was received and installed by 11am Saturday morning. A remarkable 25-hour turnaround.

Analysis and Commentary

A Cure For Our Health Care Ills: The Supply Side

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 1, 2018

We often hear that governments in the United States should regulate health care more because free markets have made it more expensive than in other countries. It’s true that medical care in the United States is usually more expensive than in other countries, even after accounting for differences in wealth. But the cause is not the free market.

Analysis and Commentary

Supply And Demand Mysteriously Explain Price Changes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, September 30, 2018

When nearly 100 drugs became scarce between 2015 and 2016, their prices mysteriously increased more than twice as fast as their expected rate, an analysis recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals. The price hikes were highest if the pharmaceutical companies behind the drugs had little competition, the study also shows.

Analysis and Commentary

The Vodnoy Paradox

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, September 29, 2018

When I was a child and young adult, my optometrist was Dr. Bernard Vodnoy. I remember his energy, curiosity, and exuberance. He had contracted polio a few months before the vaccine was available, and he was confined to a wheelchair—except it did not seem like confinement. He had rigged ramps through his office and the speed with which he moved with his wheelchair left the impression that it was his version of a skateboard. He was entrepreneurial in attitude and action, founding a small firm to make visual therapy equipment. 

Analysis and Commentary

Daily Life In The Land Of The Free

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, September 27, 2018

About a week ago, I did my 12-hour fasting so that I could go to Quest Diagnostics for a blood test. I needed the results for my regular doctor appointment early this week. I got to the place at about 7:05, 5 minutes after it opened. Ahead of me were two other patients who had lined up appointments. The guy just before me went in to the little room for his blood test and said he didn’t care whether the nurse closed the door. So it remained open and I heard the whole conversation.

Analysis and Commentary

Tradeoffs Between Immigration And Reduced Freedom Of Association

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Freedom of association is an important freedom that even some libertarians, who should be its strongest defenders, are unwilling to defend and are even, occasionally, hostile to those who defend it. I see that somewhat on blogs and I especially see it on Facebook. 

Analysis and Commentary

Dynamic Silicon Valley

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, September 24, 2018

Over at our sister Liberty Fund site, Law and Liberty, John Tamny has a hard-hitting piece titled “True Overlords Don’t Work This Hard.” It’s a response to a pretty negative piece on Silicon Valley by Michael Anton published earlier this month at Law and Liberty. Anton’s piece is titled “The Frivolous Valley and Its Dreadful Conformity.” Anton is a lecturer in politics and research fellow at Hillsdale College. Tammy is director of the Center for Economic Freedom at FreedomWorks.

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