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

Richard Nixon's 1968 Campaign For President

by David R. Henderson featuring Annelise Andersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"The first thing that Martin did for Richard Nixon—one of the first things—it’s dated July 4, 1967—is to make the argument for abolishing the military draft and moving to an all-volunteer armed force." This is my Hoover colleague Annelise Anderson reminiscing about how she and her husband, the late Martin Anderson, got involved in Richard Nixon’s 1967-68 campaign for president of the United States.

Analysis and Commentary

The Government Is Not The Public

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

There’s a proposition on the November ballot in my area to study having a government agency use eminent domain to take over a private regulated water monopoly. I won’t say anything about the merits because this blog cannot legally take a stand on a ballot issue.

Analysis and Commentary

Niskanen Center Ignores William Nordhaus

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 15, 2018

Decades ago, Nordhaus’s work provided a set of tools that should have appealed to market-minded politicians as a way to tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Yet American conservatives chose denial instead. And because the right ignored Nordhaus (and those who picked up on his work), it seems unlikely that this country will take the “unprecedented” actions that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said this week are necessary to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Analysis and Commentary

Jenkins On Trumps Ducking Taxes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, October 14, 2018

In one way excruciatingly detailed by the Times, however, Mr. Trump and his sire [Fred Trump] are nothing new under the sun. Nobody in their right mind from the compulsive accumulator class pays the punitive federal estate tax. From an early age, such people make sure their lifetime achievements are not sucked up and splattered away in 15 seconds of federal spending. 

Analysis and Commentary

Rubin And Weinstein On The Intellectual Dark Web

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, October 12, 2018

Arnold Kling’s post this morning on a conversation between Dave Rubin and Eric Weinstein sounded interesting. I have never before watched a whole 2-hour interview, but I started early this morning and watched most of it before going to work. It’s interesting throughout. I realized that although Weinstein seems to be famous, I had only vaguely heard of him and didn’t know what the big deal was.

Analysis and Commentary

Crazy Rich Asians

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, October 11, 2018

My wife and I went to see Crazy Rich Asians last week and I liked it a lot. I’ve been thinking about why. The 2 main reasons are personal, the second one of which involves economics. The two things I didn’t like, but they were minor, were economic in nature.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson On Romer And Nordhaus In WSJ

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Robert P. Murphy, an economist at Texas Tech, used Mr. Nordhaus’s work to show that setting too high a carbon tax can be worse than setting no carbon tax at all.


A Nobel Economics Prize For The Long Run

by David R. Hendersonvia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 8, 2018

[Subscription Required] The winners of this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics are U.S. economists William D. Nordhaus of Yale and Paul M. Romer of New York University. Mr. Nordhaus is acknowledged for “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis,” while Mr. Romer is credited with “integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis.”

Analysis and Commentary

Paul Romer On Economic Growth

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, October 8, 2018

I’ve been busy since about 5 a.m. writing the Wall Street Journal op/ed on the 2 Nobel Prize winners. This year was easier than average because I know Romer’s and Nordhaus’s work well. I’m just coming up for air.

Analysis and Commentary

Cathy Young On Putin's Russia

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, October 7, 2018

In the November issue of Reason, Russian emigre Cathy Young writes a long, nuanced analysis of Putin’s Russia. The whole thing is worth reading. It’s titled “Dissent and Disarray in Putin’s Russia.” Underneath the title is the brief summary: “The authoritarian’s hold on power may be shakier than it looks.” Young does a good job of showing the ways in which dissent is repressed and the ways in which it’s not. I can’t do justice to those nuances in a short space. That’s why I recommend reading it for yourself.