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

Markets In Everything, San Francisco Toilet Edition

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Last Saturday, I was up in San Francisco for an event and met my daughter for coffee first. After leaving her, I decided to walk along the ocean so that I would get my exercise and wouldn’t get to the event before it started.

Analysis and Commentary

Dalmia's Almost Great Idea On Sanctuary Cities

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Remember when President Trump “threatened” to send illegal immigrants to “sanctuary cities?” At the time, I thought this was a great idea. Governments that have declared sanctuary cities could, if they think it’s a great idea, benefit from the immigrants moving there.

Analysis and Commentary

Ontario's Progress On Liquor Laws

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, April 22, 2019

In Canada, a new Ontario provincial budget released last week proposes to loosen alcohol consumption rules in the province, including allowing licensed establishments to start serving alcohol at 9 a.m., legalizing tailgating, letting local governments set rules that would allow people to consume alcohol in public parks, and letting breweries, wineries, and distilleries serve more than mere samples. Other proposed changes include plans to allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine, legalizing happy hour advertisements, and postponing a new wine tax that was set to take effect this month.

Analysis and Commentary

Faded Memories Of The Communist Disasters

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 21, 2019

Such distant secondhand accounts are not enough, Dr Fanta concludes. To be deterred from placing themselves back in danger, people have to hear disaster tales from eye witnesses who can convey the visceral emotion of having lived through them. The group’s findings thus suggest that one way of teaching history more effectively might be to bring eye witnesses into the classroom. That approach will not work for ever, of course. Over time, witnesses’ own memories fade, and then the witnesses themselves expire.

Analysis and Commentary

Hazlett On Facebook And Privacy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, April 20, 2019

While Congress has been holding hearings, poking tech execs, and dancing the legislative Fandango, the marketplace has imposed actual sanctions. Between the time Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal was revealed, March of last year, and March of this year, shareholders lost more than $61.6 billion adjusted for overall market (NASDAQ) fluctuations. In contrast, Sen. Wyden’s 4 percent fine—even if applied to global sales, and instantly—would whack just $2.2 billion from the Facebook moguls.

Analysis and Commentary


by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, April 19, 2019

Even today, almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there are very few anti-Communist films. There were almost none in the 1930s. One of the few in the 1930s, possibly the only one, is Ninotchka. I finally saw it on Turner Classic Movies recently. I highly recommend it. The transformation of Ninotchka, played by the beautiful Greta Garbo, from a humorless, robotic official from the Soviet Union into a fun-loving, life-loving fan of the West, is quite well done.

Analysis and Commentary

Rate My Professors As Evidence For Education Signaling

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 18, 2019

Often, when I get curious about an economist I hear about or who asks me to friend him (I’ll use “him” to stand for “him/her”) on Facebook, I do a Google search and his ratings on “Rate My Professor” show up. So I often go to the ratings to see what students say. I know I’m getting a biased sample for which the particular biases are unknown but, still, it’s some information.

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Wrong For The Fed

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Should Stephen Moore be on the Federal Reserve Board?

Analysis and Commentary

Cowen On Optimal Marginal Tax Rates On CEOs

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, April 15, 2019

A week ago, I sent to my editor my review of Tyler Cowen’s latest book, Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero. The book is outstanding. There are valuable facts and/or bits of economic reasoning on virtually every page. To give you an idea of how much I liked the book, I titled my review “A Love Letter to Tyler Cowen.” I’m not sure the editor will use that title. 

Analysis and Commentary

Bernie Sanders Discovers Value And Sanctity Of Private Property

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 14, 2019

“This is an event that we paid [the Bernie Sanders campaign] for. This is an event — we bought this space,” the campaign official explained when [Kaitlin] Bennett protested. “I’m going to ask you one more time,” he said before threatening to turn the matter over to security.