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

What Motivated Newsom's Relaxation Of Lockdowns?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Governor Newsom of California announced yesterday that he is relaxing the statewide lockdown sooner than he had said he would.

Analysis and Commentary

Lockdowns Are Having Real Effects

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 18, 2020

I’m normally a fan of writing by Reason writer Eric Boehm. On his latest post, I’m not.

Analysis and Commentary

Zingales On The Rule Of Economists

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, May 17, 2020

In the spirit of Clemenceau, Huntington (1981) claims that in a democracy, the ultimate responsibility for a country’s military strategy belongs to the civilian political leadership. If, instead, the military controls the political decisions, it is a military dictatorship. In the same way, the ultimate responsibility for a country’s economic policy should belong to the political leadership. If economists control it, it is a technocratic dictatorship.

Analysis and Commentary

Sweden's Economy: Predicting Is Not Showing

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, May 15, 2020

Sweden has attracted global attention for not imposing a full lockdown, as seen in most of Europe, to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Analysis and Commentary

The Importance Of Play

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, May 14, 2020

I loved Amy Willis’s interview of co-blogger Bryan Caplan. The questions were on target and Bryan’s thoughtful answers showed what a good, caring father he is. The interview went far beyond home schooling and got into how to be a good parent.

Analysis and Commentary

The Good That This Crisis Has Brought Out In People

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I have long felt that we are being conditioned, by politicians and others who benefit by having ordinary people afraid of each other and at each others’ throats, and by an entertainment culture that continually pumps out apocalyptic narratives in which the worst of our human nature rises to the top. 

Analysis and Commentary

Biography Of Harold Demsetz

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, May 11, 2020

In a 1969 article, “Information and Efficiency: Another Viewpoint,” Demsetz accused fellow economist Kenneth Arrow of taking the “Nirvana approach” and recommended instead a “comparative institutions approach.” He wrote, “[T]hose who adopt the nirvana viewpoint seek to discover discrepancies between the ideal and the real and if discrepancies are found, they deduce that the real is inefficient.” 

Analysis and Commentary

Portland Public Schools' Plan To Beggar Its Neighbors

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, May 10, 2020

Unemployed workers in Oregon and many other states qualify for the full $600 a week if they lose as little as 10% of their pay due to coronavirus, not only if they completely lose their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Analysis and Commentary

Murphy Interviews Henderson On The Anti-Stimulus Bill

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, May 9, 2020

Bob Murphy interviewed me on Saturday, May 2 about my Hoover article on the anti-stimulus bill. He posted the audio version, along with links, here. He also had me discuss the anti-lockdown demonstration that Lawrence Samuels and I organized in Monterey on May 1.

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Social Distancing, Blood, And Hair

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Friday, May 8, 2020

North Carolina economist Roy Cordato, whom, with his wife Karen, my wife and I became friends with when he was a graduate student at George Mason University and my wife was the editor at the Center for the Study of Market Processes, writes: Yesterday I gave blood at a local blood drive. The room where it was held, at a local church, was probably about 1.5 times the size of a typical hair salon, maybe a Great Clips.