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

Hummel On Understanding Monetary Policy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, June 15, 2019

San Jose State University economics professor Jeff Hummel recently wrote a former student to answer a question about how to follow and understand the details of monetary policy. I found it so insightful that I got his permission to post it. I liked the personal reminiscence and the insights in the last paragraph. Here it is.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson's Case Against A Universal Basic Income

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, June 14, 2019

Even some free-market economists, such as Duke University’s Michael Munger, argue for a UBI that would replace the current welfare state. But assuming unrealistically that the existing means-tested welfare state programs could be completely replaced, a UBI of $12,000 a year or even of $10,000 a year would require large increases in federal government spending and large increases in taxes.

US Money Ladder
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Universal Basic Income, In Perspective

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, June 13, 2019

How should poor people climb the ladder to economic success?

Analysis and Commentary

The 7 Worst Ideas For Regulation This Century

by David R. Hendersonvia American Institute for Economic Research
Thursday, June 13, 2019

Many good things have happened both in the United States and worldwide this century. In the U.S., we have the lowest unemployment rate in half a century. Worldwide prosperity is growing so fast that the rate of extreme poverty fell by half between 1990 and 2015, five years ahead of the World Bank’s optimistic goal.

Analysis and Commentary

My Economics Of Golf Ball

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Yesterday I broke with an old pattern I had developed during half a century of work (if you include college, where I did work hard) and took the day off. I had always wondered what it would be like to attend a major golf tournament and I was fortunate enough to get 2 free passes to the U.S. Open practice rounds plus a parking permit. So I invited a friend and we had a ball, so to speak.

Analysis and Commentary

Martin Feldstein RIP

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I learned late last night that my boss for two years at the Council of Economic Advisers, Marty Feldstein, died yesterday. He was only 79.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On Tom Woods Podcast

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, June 10, 2019

Tom Woods contacted me last Thursday morning to ask if he could interview me that afternoon on this 8-minute monologue from Tucker Carlson in which Tucker endorses Elizabeth Warren’s economic plan and claims that libertarians are running Washington. On this latter, who knew?

Analysis and Commentary

A Conservative Irony

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, June 9, 2019

An argument that conservatives often make against libertarianism is that libertarians are insufficiently concerned about virtue and good behavior. That argument isn’t empty. Conservatives can probably point to instances of libertarians thinking that certain behaviors should be legal but concluding, on that basis alone, that there’s nothing wrong with such behaviors.

Analysis and Commentary

AER's Efficiency Problem

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, June 7, 2019

Economics has an efficiency problem. The length of papers published in top tier journals has tripled in the past 40 years, expanding to such a degree that readers often struggle to finish them.

Analysis and Commentary

Electricity From Large Dams Does Not Count As Renewable Energy

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Anna Caballero, a Democratic state senator from a district near me in California, had a proposal that I actually agreed with. She wanted the term “renewable energy” in California law to refer to–hold on to your hat–renewable energy.

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