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

Michael Clemens And Kate Gough: Or Means Or

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, July 13, 2018

Congress created the H-2A as a visa for temporary farmworkers: people who do not intend to settle in the United States and eventually become permanent residents. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Problems With Epp And Borghetto

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, July 13, 2018

Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen cites an abstract of a recent paper by Derek A. Epp and Enrico Borghetto: "This article investigates the effects of economic inequality on legislative agendas."

Analysis and Commentary

Does A Capital Account Surplus Necessarily Imply A Trade Deficit?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 12, 2018

No. Bob Murphy explains why. He points out that a capital account surplus necessarily implies a current account deficit. But, he notes, a current account deficit is not the same as a trade deficit. Why?

Analysis and Commentary

Tyler Cowen's Educational Non Sequitur

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

About 15 years ago, when my daughter and I were on our annual father/daughter trip, we rafted down the Middle Fork of the American River with a guide who had just finished high school. He had already been accepted in a college for the fall, but one of his customers a few days earlier, who was in the tech field in Silicon Valley, had found his tech skills promising and had offered him a beginning position at $60K a year.

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Lifting All Boats

by David R. Hendersonvia Hoover Digest
Monday, July 9, 2018

The growth of “inequality” is the wrong metric to use in assessing our progress. The correct one? The retreat of poverty.

Analysis and Commentary

A Sad Anecdote About U.S. Immigration Policy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 9, 2018

“The plural of anecdote is data.” (allegedly said by the late George J. Stigler.) Last Tuesday I drove up to San Jose State University to visit and have lunch with Professor Jeff Hummel. We normally go to the restaurant across the street, a restaurant called Pomegranate. But I noticed that the name had changed: it is now a Vietnamese restaurant. 

Analysis and Commentary

Rick Geddes Explains The Postal Monopoly

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 9, 2018

In April, President Trump issued an executive order to form a task force to study the United States Postal Service, with the stated goal of recommending reforms.

Analysis and Commentary

How Socialized Medicine Creates Dependence

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, July 5, 2018

The bad news is that socialized medicine creates dependence. The good news is that you can choose otherwise.

Analysis and Commentary

Benefits Of The American Revolution

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

It has become de rigueur, even among libertarians and classical liberals, to denigrate the benefits of the American Revolution. Thus, libertarian Bryan Caplan writes: “Can anyone tell me why American independence was worth fighting for?… [W]hen you ask about specific libertarian policy changes that came about because of the Revolution, it’s hard to get a decent answer.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson's First Law Of Econometrics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, July 2, 2018

When I was a colleague of Richard Thaler at the University of Rochester in the late 1970s, I learned from him Thaler’s First Law of Dieting. The law: Don’t eat beyond the point where it hurts. Somehow, for someone who won the Nobel prize for his insights about people’s limitations in acting rationally, that law seems particularly a propos. I think I asked him what his second law is and that he answered that he didn’t have one.

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