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 Celebration Of The U.S. Constitution

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Below is an article reprinted from Antiwar.com. It is an edited version of a talk I gave about the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 2007. I’ve edited it slightly since it appeared in 2007. Specifically, I made a charge at the end against George W. Bush that turns out to be almost certainly unjustified and so I removed it.

Analysis and Commentary

Some Basic Arithmetic On Carbon Dioxide Emissions

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, September 16, 2019

A number of people in the United States argue for increasing the number of electric vehicles as a percent of the automobile stock.

Analysis and Commentary

Samantha Power: The Woman Of System

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, September 15, 2019

We need to restore a constituency and a faith that we can have a productive foreign policy, and I think that part of what that will entail is putting diplomacy and burden sharing at the front of our messaging and of our packaging and of our actions. Right now, humanitarian intervention, if it happens — and it’s happening in different places around the world — but is much more likely to be done by regional organizations like the African Union than it is to be orchestrated by great powers.

Analysis and Commentary

Michael Grossberg On Libertarian Futurism And Pretty Much Everything

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, September 12, 2019

I’m not big on libertarian futurism or on science fiction. I’m not bragging. On the contrary, I think it’s due to my lack of imagination. So when I recommend an interview on the Libertarian Futurist Society’s (LFS) Prometheus Blog, you can be fairly confident that it would interest not just libertarian futurists but also libertarians and maybe even an audience broader than that.

9/11, Six Years Later

by David R. Henderson
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

George W. Bush has provided, and is providing, much of that pavement. As you know if you’ve been paying attention to the news, this is the 18th anniversary of the murders of almost 3,000 people in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Pennsylvania. I wrote a piece for antiwar.com 6 years after the event and, since I own the copyright, I’m reprinting it here:

Analysis and Commentary

Michael Trump Or Donald Dukakis

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

In researching my article “Donald Trump Vs. Adam Smith,” I came across Michael Dukakis’s speech to Moog Automotive, an auto parts firm near St. Louis. What I found striking is the uncanny resemblance between Dukakis’s and Donald Trump’s views on foreign trade and even on making American great again. Thus the title of this post.

Analysis and Commentary

Murphy On Henderson And Carbon Taxes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, September 8, 2019

There are several problems here. First, even if we agreed that government (as opposed to private) payments for tree-planting made sense, it doesn’t at all follow that the revenue should come from a carbon tax. In general, raising a dollar of revenue from a tax on carbon content hurts the economy more than raising a dollar from taxing labor or consumption. (My article on the “tax interaction effect” gives the economic intuition behind this point.)

Analysis and Commentary

Author On British Inheritance Misses Two Important Points

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, September 7, 2019

In a recent article titled “Is property inheritance widening the wealth gap?” author James Gordon points out that people in Britain who own houses will often leave them to their adult children and, thus, adult children of Brits with no houses will see a large gap between their wealth and those of their housing-endowed peers.

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Donald Trump Vs. Adam Smith

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Friday, September 6, 2019

Should We Worry About the American Trade Deficit?

Analysis and Commentary

Paul Romer Likes Anarchy And Thinks It's Government

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, September 5, 2019

Mr. Romer’s answer is to do with this moment what Burning Man does every summer: Stake out the street grid; separate public from private space; and leave room for what’s to come. Then let the free market take over. No market mechanism can ever create the road network that connects everyone. The government must do that first.

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