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

Duflo And Banerjee's Deficient Thinking On Incentives, Part I

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 8, 2019

Within 2 weeks of sharing the 2019 Nobel Prize in economics with Michael Kremer, MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee wrote a long piece for the Sunday New York Times in which they argued that financial incentives are not as important as many economists think.

Analysis and Commentary

The Journal's Muddled Reasoning On Illegal Drugs

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

In today’s Wall Street Journal, the editors address the recent murder of some Americans in Mexico by a gang. Although the reports I’ve read (here’s one example) claim that it was a drug gang (everyone misuses the word “cartel”), I haven’t seen enough evidence that it was. I suspect, though, that the odds are high that the murderers were part of a drug gang.

Analysis and Commentary

Randal O'Toole's Slam Dunk

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 4, 2019

Randal O’Toole’s recent book, Romance of the Rails, is a slam-dunk. Actually, that is an understatement. The book is full of slam-dunks. In chapter after chapter, O’Toole, a long-time fan of railroads, puts his fandom aside and shows what a disaster government subsidies to, and regulations of, rail transportation have been.

Analysis and Commentary

Reminder About My Monday Talk At Boise State

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, November 3, 2019

On Monday, November 4, I’ll be giving the Brandt Foundation Lecture at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. It will be the first time I’ve been in Boise since I stayed overnight there in April 1971.

Analysis and CommentaryEconomy

Trump's Economic Policies: An Assessment, Part II

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 2, 2019

In Part I, I covered the “very good indeed” parts of President Donald Trump’s economic policies: the 2017 tax cut and the deregulation and slowing of new regulation. Here I turn to the “horrid:” his attacks on free trade, his hostility to immigration, and his failure to do anything to rein in federal spending. As in Part I, I wear two hats in judging him: (1) as a believer in economic freedom and (2) as an economist who cares about people’s economic wellbeing.

Analysis and Commentary

The Central Planning Myth

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 1, 2019

Friedrich Hayek pointed out that a central planner, even a smart benevolent one, can’t possibly know what he would need to know to plan an economy. The needed information exists in the minds of hundreds of millions of people.


Sometimes Drug Prices Are Too Low

by David R. Henderson, Charles L. Hoopervia The Wall Street Journal
Friday, November 1, 2019

When Americans talk about drug prices, the conversation is dominated by the eye-popping sticker prices of certain new drugs. We’re all aware of how sky-high prices can make it hard for some patients to afford the drugs they need. Yet few appreciate how patients also lose access to treatments when prices are too low.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Trump’s Economic Policies: An Assessment, Part II

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

In this essay: What the president has done wrong. 

Analysis and Commentary

America Needs Defenders Who Understand Freedom

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Former government bureaucrat has epic fail.

Analysis and Commentary

Vladimir Bukovsky RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 28, 2019

Tom G. Palmer, at Cato @ Liberty, has written a moving tribute to Vladimir Bukovsky, who died yesterday at age 76. I had always wondered why the Soviet government didn’t outright murder him. I think I understand a little better after reading Tom’s tribute.