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

The Most Important Blog Post Today

by David R. Henderson featuring Casey B. Mulliganvia EconLog
Monday, July 1, 2019

No, not this one. 

Analysis and Commentary

Tim Herrera's Confusion About How To Get Rich

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 30, 2019

Think on the margin. Earlier this month CNBC generated an outrage cycle about money advice by tweeting this story, in which the personal finance professional Suze Orman claimed that buying coffee means “you are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee.”

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Immigrant Remittances Are Private Foreign Aid

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Americans are free to give their money to foreigners if they wish to. 

Analysis and Commentary

Letter To The Presidential Candidates: It's Time To Tax Others More

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A recent open letter from 17 wealthy Americans willing to identify themselves and one American who was unwilling to do so has gotten a lot of attention. In it, they make a case for higher taxes on very wealthy Americans like themselves and, apparently, on Americans who are wealthy, but much less wealthy than some of the signers.

Analysis and Commentary

Alan Reynolds On The Disappearing Middle Class

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 23, 2019

At this link is a 22-minute talk that economist Alan Reynolds gave at Harvard in 1987. The other participants were John Kenneth Galbraith, Barry Bluestone, Lester Thurow, and Frank Levy.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On Cowen On Big Business

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, June 20, 2019

Tyler Cowen’s latest book, Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero, is excellent. Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, makes a strong evidence-based case that big business in America is an important—probably the most important—contributor to our well-being.

Analysis and Commentary

Giving USA Gets The Incentives Half Right

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

“After reaching record-breaking levels of giving in 2017, American individuals and organizations continued their generous support of charitable institutions in 2018,” said Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation and CEO of Dunham + Company. “However, the environment for giving in 2018 was far more complex than most years, with shifts in tax policy and the volatility of the stock market. This is particularly true for the wide range of households that comprise individual giving and provide over two-thirds of all giving.”

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
Analysis and Commentary

Ominous News From The San Francisco Fed

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

And you thought the Fed was just about monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco wants banks to get extra credit for making loans that help communities adapt to climate change and prepare for future natural disasters.

Analysis and Commentary

A Mistake In The Wall Street Journal Crossword Puzzle

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, June 17, 2019

In the June 3, 2019 Wall Street Journal crossword, edited by Mike Shenk, the clue for 13 Down is “SFO screeners.” The answer is TSA. 

Analysis and Commentary

Ariely Misses An Obvious Economic Explanation

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, June 17, 2019

Psychologist Dan Ariely, who writes an “Ask Ariely” column in the weekend Wall Street Journal, leads in last weekend’s column with a psychological explanation of a phenomenon that often arises in auctions. In doing so, he fails to consider an obvious economic explanation.

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