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

Larry Summers Does A First-Rate Economic Analysis

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, October 27, 2019

Bottom line: If you’re someone who wants to see good economics being done or wants your students to see good economics being done, watch the video I discuss below. Larry Summers’s inputs are a microeconomics tour de force. Be aware, though, that Larry has one pretty awful proposal.

Analysis and Commentary

DEA Forms Drug Cartel

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, October 24, 2019

Last month the Drug Enforcement Administration, tasked with setting quotas for opioid production in the U.S, announced a proposal to reduce production levels another 10 percent, having already reduced production by 25 percent in 2017 and an additional 20 percent in 2018.

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The Reality Of Universal Basic Income

by David R. Hendersonvia PolicyEd
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Universal Basic Income would not only be prohibitively costly, but would produce massive redistributive effects that would hurt the elderly and poor.

Analysis and Commentary

The Public Choice Problems With Carbon Taxes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Adrian College political science professor James Hanley, responding to this editorial in the Washington Post, wrote the following on Facebook and gave me permission to use it as a post.

Analysis and Commentary

Liberty City

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 21, 2019

Dekornfeld: But nothing would prepare him [James Massey] for what he would find in Von Ormy because all those classes were about building city government. And in Von Ormy, the sole goal seemed to be the opposite.

Analysis and Commentary

Getting Rich On Low Pay

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, October 20, 2019

The key is high saving. Here’s an amazing story about a worker on Wall Street making $40,000 a year and saving $10,500 a year in a 401(k) for 12 years. By the end, he was a millionaire.

Analysis and Commentary

Don't Ignore The Median Voter Theorem

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, October 19, 2019

Marc A. Thiessen writes: With three polls showing her in the lead, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) may soon eclipse former vice president Joe Biden as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. That’s great news for Republicans, because Warren has a problem: The central message of her campaign is that the economy is working for the very wealthy but it is not working for ordinary Americans. Unfortunately for her, ordinary Americans disagree.

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Trump’s Economic Policies: An Assessment, Part-1

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, October 17, 2019

In this essay: What the president has done right. 

Analysis and Commentary

Adam Silver Cut No Constitutional Corners

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, October 17, 2019

Unfortunately, however, O’Rourke, Warren and Silver demonstrate the tendency of too many progressives to cut constitutional corners, to despise and bully adversaries, and to practice theatrical but selective indignation about attacks on fundamental American principles, some of which they themselves traduce. Just what we did not need in our dispiriting civic life: additional evidence that there really is no such thing as rock bottom.

Analysis and Commentary

Exporters Make Money

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, October 17, 2019

In an otherwise excellent critique of Donald Trump’s trade policy, Mercatus economist Veronique de Rugy writes: Worst of all, the deal would actually reinforce these Chinese behaviors. For instance, the deal in question would require that China use its state-owned enterprises to buy $40 billion to $50 billion worth of American agricultural products annually—instead of the roughly $20 billion it bought previously.

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