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

A Bad Argument for Paid Family Leave

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 20, 2021

In a blow to arguments that a federal paid leave law would harm small businesses, a new study co-authored by Stanford’s Maya Rossin-Slater finds that support for paid leave among small employers is not only strong, but also increased as the pandemic added new strain to the work-life juggle.

Analysis and Commentary

Must These Values Conflict?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 19, 2021

Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) said he was struggling with conflicting sentiments. “One is I believe in the equality of women and I want to communicate that men and women are equal,” Mr. Romney said. “At the same time, I don’t want to put women in harm’s way in a way which would impair their safety. So these conflicting sentiments have kept me from reaching a final decision.”

Who Was Henry Hazlitt?

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Thursday, November 18, 2021

Did you know of the Hazlitt/Samuelson connection? Earlier this week, Kimberly Fiorello, a state representative in the Connecticut legislature, had me spend an hour on Zoom with her and about 35 of her constituents to discuss Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson

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Railroad Regulation’s Poor Track Record

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, November 18, 2021

Reforms in the Carter years unleashed real competition, to consumers’ benefit. The Biden administration wants to roll them back.

David Rubenstein's Weak Case for Fearing China

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Tyler Cowen recently interviewed wealthy philanthropist David Rubenstein and, as with most Cowen interviews, the conversation ranged over many topics. I found most of them interesting.
Analysis and Commentary

Reading Hayek in Graduate School

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, November 14, 2021

About a month ago, economists on Facebook were talking about whether Friedrich Hayek‘s classic 1945 article “The Use of Knowledge in Society” was taught in many Ph.D. economics programs in the United States. The consensus was that it isn’t. I have a personal experience from my Ph.D. program and a conversation with professors from more-mainstream Ph.D. programs to report.

Analysis and Commentary

Students Open to Evidence on Taxes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 12, 2021

Interviewers at campusreform.org often go on campuses to interview college students about their knowledge of various current issues. There has been a lot of talk lately about whether “the rich” in the United States pay “their fair share” in taxes. Of course, “fair” is almost never defined.

Response to Scott Sumner on the Carbon Tax

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

In a comment on Bryan Caplan’s latest post, “Climate Shock Bet: Daniel Reeves Responds,” November 10, 2021, co-blogger Scott Sumner writes: Revenue neutral carbon taxes are a low hanging fruit that we have foolishly declared impractical.

Analysis and Commentary

Wagner and Weitzman's Asymmetric Treatment of Non-Carbon Energies

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 9, 2021

In his well-deserved victory lap about his bet with Daniel Reeves, co-blogger Bryan Caplan points out that one major flaw in Gernot Wagner’s and Martin L. Weitzman’s book Climate Shock is its treatment or, rather, non-treatment of nuclear power.

Undated photo of Hayek, London, circa 1940s
Analysis and Commentary

Hayek on Responsibility for One's Fate

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 8, 2021

Maybe you “didn’t build that” entirely on your own, but if you act as if you did, you probably will build more.

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