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

Tirole On Economics For The Common Good

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, December 17, 2017

In 2014, French economist Jean Tirole, chairman of the Toulouse School of Economics and the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Although he is well known within the increasingly technical economics profession, Tirole is not well known to non-economists.

Analysis and Commentary

Origins Of The Entitlement Nightmare

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, December 16, 2017

Currently, the U.S. federal government spends about $2.4 trillion per year--about 12% of GDP--on entitlement programs. This amounts to $7,500 per person annually. Only 48% of this spending goes to people officially classified as poor. The federal government provides more than $50,000 per year in Social Security and Medicare benefits to retired middle-income couples. And this is at a time when almost half of households headed by people under age 65 have incomes less than $50,000.

Analysis and Commentary

Rogoff On How To Deal With Emergencies Without Cash

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, December 15, 2017

As noted in my previous post, I was discussion leader at a recent colloquium on moving towards a cashless or less-cash society. Here are some quotes from Rogoff, followed by questions I asked.

Analysis and Commentary

Rogoff's Alternative To The Wall

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cash also plays a role in the illegal immigration problem that bedevils countries like the United States. It is incredible that some politicians talk seriously about building huge border fences, yet no one seems to realize that a far more humane and effective approach would be to make it difficult for U.S. employers to use cash to pay ineligible workers off the books and often below the minimum wage. Jobs are the big magnet that drives the whole process.

Analysis and Commentary

Eugene Volokh On Everything

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nick Gillespie has a good interview with Eugene Volokh of the famed law blog The Volokh Conspiracy.

Is Hiring Jews Evidence Of Anti-Semitism?

by David R. Henderson
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

At first glance, the title of this post seems strange. How could hiring Jews be evidence of anti-Semitism? And yet that is where we are.

Analysis and Commentary

Is Support For Freedom Of Association Fanatical?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, December 11, 2017

In an article in which he makes a number of good points, on net defending a baker's decision not to bake a cake for a celebration that the baker objects to on religious grounds, Andrew Sullivan writes: And it is a hard case constitutionally. It pits religious and artistic freedom against civil equality and nondiscrimination. 

Analysis and Commentary

A Man Called Ove

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, December 10, 2017

I rarely recommend movies on EconLog but this is an exception. My wife and I saw A Man Called Ove last night and loved it. I would give it a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. It's a familiar story line: a gruff old man (actually younger than me, though) who has a grudge against the world loosens up in response to a family with 2 delightful young daughters who move in next to him. 

Analysis and Commentary

Cutting Corporate Tax Rates In 2018 Or 2019: It Matters

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, December 7, 2017

The important effect of incentives on allocation over time. One of the differences between the House and Senate versions of the tax cut is whether the corporate tax rate falls in 2018 (House) or 2019 (Senate.) It might look as though it's no big deal. It might well be a big deal, partly economically and, deriving from the economics, partly politically.

Analysis and Commentary

Average Federal Tax Rates By Income Quintile

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A number of friends on Facebook have been discussing whether the federal tax system is "progressive." That word has emotive content--"progressive" seems good--but all it means is that the higher your income, the higher your tax rate.

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