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

In Praise Of CBS Sunday Morning

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, September 8, 2018

About a year ago, I set up our cable to automatically record CBS’s Sunday morning show, called, appropriately enough, CBS Sunday Morning. I did it for one main reason: to watch the beautiful nature scene, complete with sounds, that goes for about 30 or 40 seconds at the end of each episode. The sights and sounds are often breathtaking.

Analysis and Commentary

Federal Employees Often Undercut Their Bosses

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, September 6, 2018

I was traveling yesterday and so it wasn’t until this morning that I had a chance to read, reread, and think about “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the New York Times’ anonymous op/ed by a Trump administration official. In what follows, I will take the NYT at its word that the editors know who the official is.

Analysis and Commentary

WSJ Interview With George Gilder

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

My Hoover colleague Tunku Varadarajan did an excellent interview in the Wall Street Journal (gated) with George Gilder, who has been on the leading edge of understand the computer revolution for over 30 years. In fact, he did an entry for the first edition of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics titled “Computer Industry.”

Analysis and Commentary

Lemieux: There's No Such Thing As National Interest

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, September 3, 2018

A third problem with the national interest is that the homogenization of individual preferences carries costs for the nationals themselves or for a large number of them, even if state propaganda tries to hide these costs. Diversified preferences, at least within a certain range, carry information and promote experimentation and innovation, from which wealth and individual flourishing spring.

Analysis and Commentary

Live Free And Die?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, September 1, 2018

In a recent New York Times column, economist Paul Krugman writes: The other day I had some fun with the Cato Institute index of economic freedom across states, which finds Florida the freest and New York the least free. (Is it OK for me to write this, comrade commissar?) As I pointed out, freedom Cato-style seems to be associated with, among other things, high infant mortality. Live free and die! (New Hampshire is just behind Florida.)

Analysis and Commentary

Arizona Supremes Show Some Numeracy

by David R. Henderson mentioning Clint Bolickvia EconLog
Friday, August 31, 2018

In every course I taught in the last 20 years before I retired, I did about a 45-minute segment on numeracy. One point I emphasized is that there is typically a huge difference between a percent change and a percentage-point change. So, for example, when various proponents were advocating a one-percentage-point increase in our local sales tax, they would sometimes claim that it was a one-percent increase. A one-percent increase sounds trivial and, indeed, is trivial. 

Analysis and Commentary

James Mirrlees RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mirrlees started with no presumption against high marginal tax rates. Indeed, he has been an adviser to Britain’s Labour Party, which for decades imposed marginal tax rates in excess of 80 percent.

Analysis and Commentary

A World Of LBJs

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

This paper details an extensive and elaborate campaign using elective law enforcement offices, in coordination with major donors and activist pressure groups, to attain a policy agenda that failed through the democratic process. The plan is revealed in emails and other public records obtained during two and a half years of requests under state open records laws.

Analysis and Commentary

Epstein On Trump's Influence On The Economy

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Hoover colleague Richard Epstein is a law professor, not an economist.

Analysis and Commentary

Buckley On Churchill

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, August 27, 2018

As I mentioned in a previous post, earlier this summer I read large parts of A Torch Kept Lit, William F. Buckley Jr.’s book of obituaries of the famous and not so famous. I had planned to post on his obituary of Winston Churchill, which I found, not being a big fan of Churchill myself, pleasantly surprising.