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

Canada's Decline in Press Freedom, Part 2

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, December 14, 2021

You need only one customer.


David Henderson: US Inflation Rates Hit A 40 Year High

interview with David R. Hendersonvia KCBS Radio: On-Demand
Monday, December 13, 2021

Hoover Institution fellow David Henderson discusses inflation as well as the economic outlook.

Analysis and Commentary

Colorado Governor Says Sensible Things about COVID

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, December 12, 2021

Ryan Warner: We often ask listeners to submit questions and for the last few months, the majority have asked why you won’t impose a statewide mask mandate. We’ve recently seen a surge in cases and a shortage of hospital beds. Is there anything that would prompt you to return to a statewide order?

Analysis and Commentary

The FDA Will Soon Allow Adults to Act as Adults

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, December 11, 2021

At least on one issue.

My Oversight on Scott Atlas

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Friday, December 10, 2021

My Hoover colleague and friend Alvin Rabushka writes: An example of the authority of local control is Sara Cody, the health officer and public health director of Santa Clara County. She dictated Stanford’s response to COVID, a “shelter-in-place” lockdown.

Analysis and Commentary

Elephant Ear Sandwiches and Amazon

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, December 10, 2021

I’ve been going to physical therapy for my left hip and leg and realized that pretty much everything I do there I can do at home if I get just a few more relatively cheap pieces of equipment. I’ll save time and money and I’ll save my insurance company even more money. Of course I don’t value a dollar saved for the insurance company at a dollar, but I value it more than zero. I care about others, after all, whether they be the insurance company or other beneficiaries.

Traffic is Congested? Then Make it More Congested

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
When the means become the end. “It’s too easy to drive in this city,” says Los Angeles Metro CEO Phil Washington, referring to the city that is often ranked as one of the most congested in the world.

Should FIRE Be Pushing for Tenure?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, December 7, 2021

One of the enduring myths of higher education is that the vast majority of professors are protected by tenure and have jobs for life, and so they are therefore free to research, teach, or speak openly about controversial ideas without fear of professional retaliation. This may have been the case 50 years ago — maybe even 30 years ago — but is far less common today because of seismic changes in how colleges recruit and staff their faculty ranks.

A Memory of Bob Dole

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Monday, December 6, 2021

In the summer of 1982, I was a special assistant to assistant secretary of labor John Cogan. That summer, the U.S. was still in the midst of the 1981-82 recession. When you’re in it, you don’t know how long you’re in it and you don’t know you’re out of it until at least a few months after you are. That meant that there was strong pressure to renew the federal extension of unemployment benefits. On the other hand, there was a reasonable case to be made that the extension of unemployment benefits was extending the recession.

More Populist Deregulation

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Sunday, December 5, 2021

Co-blogger Bryan Caplan had an excellent post on December 1 in which he argued that there is some low-hanging fruit for regulations that could be eliminated. It’s low-hanging in the sense that a strong case can be made for deregulation and that the case could be popular. That doesn’t mean that the deregulatory changes are popular now; instead, they could be made popular if Republicans and even some moderate Democrats step up and make a strong relentless case.