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

Great Moment in Shetland

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Friday, December 3, 2021

My wife and I finished the first season of the crime drama Shetland on Amazon Prime and are now onto the third season. (It seems that they skipped Season 2.)

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What Are You Afraid Of?

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, December 2, 2021

Lack of fluency with numbers confuses people about the risks of shark attacks, police shootings, and COVID-19.

Analysis and Commentary

Bad and Good Olympic Boycotts

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Let people choose for themselves.

Analysis and Commentary

Bad and Good Olympic Boycotts

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Let people choose for themselves.

Analysis and Commentary

Richard L. Stroup RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 29, 2021

As a number of economists and others have noted, Richard L. Stroup died on November 18. He was a good and gentle man and a very good economist. He used straightforward microeconomic tools to investigate, and generate insights on, interesting issues. I’ll highlight some items from the 10th edition of his textbook, Economics: Private and Public Choice, co-authored with James D. Gwartney, Russell S. Sobel, and David A. Macpherson. I’ll point to sections for which there is a high probability that he wrote them.

Analysis and Commentary

Was Kyle Rittenhouse Foolish?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 27, 2021

A few days ago I was in a discussion on Facebook about Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who was recently found not guilty of killing two men and wounding a third. His defense was that he acted in self-defense and I watched enough of the trial (between 7 and 9 hours) to be convinced that the jury got it right.

Analysis and Commentary

Economics in One Lesson

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Connecticut State Representative Kimberly Fiorello released the 1-hour video of my discussion with her and her constituents about Henry Hazlitt’s 1946 book, Economics in One Lesson.

Analysis and Commentary

No Single Incident of Anticompetitive Actions

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 24, 2021

In my recent Hoover article, “Railroad Regulation’s Poor Track Record,” Defining Ideas, November 18, 2021, I wrote the following: It is true that in some circumstances, shippers will be “captive”: they will be at the mercy of the one railroad that goes to or by their location.

Analysis and Commentary

Surviving the Zam Zam

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 22, 2021

Last week I gave a talk at California State University Monterey Bay’s chapter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. The talk is titled “Surviving the Zamzam.” It’s a story about my Aunt Jamie and Uncle Fred Henderson and their getting captured by the German Navy while on their way to Africa to be medical missionaries. They were taken prisoner on April 17, 1941 and their ship, the Zam Zam, was sunk.

Analysis and Commentary

Railroad Regulation's Poor Track Record

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, November 21, 2021

In my recent article on the Biden administration’s many-pronged assault on economic freedom, I pointed out that comparisons of President Biden with former president Jimmy Carter are inaccurate and unfair to Carter. In 1980, Carter, along with Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, deregulated surface freight transportation. Deregulation of trucking, with the 1980 Motor Carrier Act, and of railroads, with the 1980 Staggers Rail Act, unleashed competition among truckers and railroads and between the two modes of transportation. Virtually everything that transportation economists anticipated and hoped for came about.

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