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

The Latest Nobel Prize In Economics

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences to Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Kremer of Harvard “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” The award reveals a deepening fault line among economists about how best to fight poverty.


Nobel Laureates Aim Too Low On Global Poverty

by David R. Hendersonvia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 14, 2019

Immigration and growth would help more than addressing the winners’ ‘manageable questions.’

Analysis and Commentary

Friedrich Engels Answers The Question All Libertarians Have Been Asked

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, October 13, 2019

Who will build the roads? Every libertarian I know who has been one for 5 years or more has been asked this question. Our answer is typically that for-profit firms will build roads and that sometimes neighborhood associations will do so.

Analysis and Commentary

Daniel Kuehn On Aaron Director

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, October 11, 2019

Aaron Director had an enormous impact on antitrust law, first through the activities of the Free Market Study (1946-1952) and the Antitrust Project (1953-1957), and through his subsequent work and teaching at the University of Chicago Law School.

Analysis and Commentary

Chicago Does Not Understand Incentives

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, October 11, 2019

The University of Chicago, that is.

Analysis and Commentary

An Economist Buys Lunch On The Margin

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, October 10, 2019

Herewith a relatively trivial but, I hope, fun application of marginal thinking. Actually two applications: a subtler one by my non-economist wife (who has lived with an economist for 37 years) and an obvious one by me.

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Universal Income: How to Bust the Bank

by David R. Hendersonvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

This utopian scheme would create the mother of all welfare states.

Analysis and Commentary

Residential Versus Commuter Colleges And Intersectionality

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, October 8, 2019

In a comment on Arnold Kling’s post on intersectionality today, John Alcorn writes: "A hypothesis: Ideology of intersectionality will flourish more at (residential) colleges than at the workplace, because residential colleges are structurally totalitarian institutions."

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How The Jones Act Harms America

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Monday, October 7, 2019

A century-old protectionist law that inflicts economic harm.

Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science
Analysis and Commentary

Defending Milton Friedman From James Buchanan And Peter Boettke

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 7, 2019

In his recent Econlib article, “The Role of the Economist in a Free Society: The Art of Political Economy,” George Mason University economics professor Peter Boettke writes: After [James] Buchanan left the University of Virginia, he wrote in a letter to [Rutledge] Vining: “My own worry, which you do not express so directly as I do, stems from the step taken by such an idealized professional assistant when he takes it on himself to propose changes in structure, as if he has a direct line to God.