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 Strong Indicator Of Economic Well-Being

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, April 13, 2019

For over a week, some neighbors of mine up the street put 3 nice-looking chairs in front of their house. It was their way of inviting passersby on a busy street to take the chairs. As I said, though, the chairs were there for over a week. I think they were finally picked up by the trash collector.

Analysis and Commentary

Tesla's Troubles

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 11, 2019

However, there is a problem: today, most OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] do not make a profit from the sale of EVs [electric vehicles]. In fact, these vehicles often cost $12,000 more to produce than comparable vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines (ICEs) in the small- to midsize-car segment and the small-utility-vehicle segment (Exhibit 1).

Analysis and Commentary

The Minimum Wage As A Perpetual Motion Machine

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Jubal Harshaw at the blog GrokInFullness had an excellent post last month on the minimum wage that I had missed.

Analysis and Commentary

Meer On Minimum Wage

by John H. Cochrane mentioning David R. Hendersonvia The Grumpy Economist
Monday, April 8, 2019

David Henderson posts a thoughtful draft op-ed by Jonathan Meer on minimum wages. Two talents of  great economists are to recognize that averages hide big differences among people, and to imagine all the avenues of substitution and unintended effects of a regulation. 

Analysis and Commentary

Why Kidney Sales Should Be Allowed

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 7, 2019

"I think this law [making sales of kidneys illegal] is basically a form of mass murder. The government is not merely allowing 5000 deaths a year, or failing to save 5000 people; it is killing 5,000 people a year. Since the killing is unjustified (it is not, e.g., done in self-defense, or defense of an innocent third party, or as just punishment for a heinous crime, or as a form of euthanasia), it is murder." This is from Michael Huemer, “Why Not Sell a Kidney?.”

Analysis and Commentary

Hidden Costs Of The Minimum Wage

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, April 6, 2019

Jonathan Meer, an economics professor and first-rate economic researcher at Texas A&M University, shared with me an op/ed on the minimum wage that he wrote recently. It was rejected by a few publications, although I think, as you’ll see, the rejection had nothing to do with the quality of the piece. So he and I have agreed that I’ll run it here as a guest blog post.

Amazing Progress On Unemployment Claims

by David R. Henderson
Friday, April 5, 2019

An amazing statistic came out earlier this week, one that CNBC remarked on but still, in my view got too little attention. Here’s the report from CNBC: The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped to a more than 49-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength despite slowing economic growth.

Analysis and Commentary

Boudreaux On Mandatory Paid Parental Leave

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Over at CafeHayek, George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux, a frequent commenter on this blog, has been in an interesting conversation with two scholars at the American Enterprise Institute. His first post was an open letter to economist Aparna Mathur. She didn’t reply but her colleague Angela Rachidi, whose Ph.D. is in public policy, did.

My Short Case Against Occupational Licensing

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

“Just because somebody packs up that moving van in Chicago, Illinois, they don’t lose their skills on the way to the state of Arizona. Why should somebody have to suffer the burden of thousands of dollars or weeks or months of recertification in a skill that they already have?” So said Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, in making his case recently for relaxing Arizona’s licensing laws.

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Occupational Licensing Is A Bad Idea

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

People have a right to make a living. 

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