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

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The Genuine Wealth of Nations

by David R. Hendersonvia Hoover Digest
Friday, April 20, 2018

An antipoverty charity closes its eyes to increasing personal income around the world.

Analysis and Commentary

An Economist Deals With A Cancelled Flight

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Today, I flew from Monterey to LAX on United, then on to Washington Dulles, with a connection planned to Dayton, Ohio. 

Analysis and Commentary

Default Or High Inflation?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, April 16, 2018

I was on a discussion on Facebook yesterday with an economist about default and high inflation. This economist and I agree that the U.S. federal government has an enormous deficit and debt problem in its future. What we disagreed about is whether there's much difference between the feds defaulting on their debt or creating high inflation. He saw not much difference. I see a lot.

Analysis and Commentary

Why I Find It Easy To Admit Mistakes

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 15, 2018

My main frustration in debates about politics and economics is the difficulty many of those I argue with have in admitting my points. Often on Facebook, for example, I will make a point, someone will respond critically, and I'll respond to that point. If I'm persuaded, my response is something like "Touche."

Analysis and Commentary

Good News On Tuition From The Conversable Economist

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, April 13, 2018

One of my favorite blogs, both for its balance and for its focus on important facts and issues, is that of the Conversable Economist, written by Timothy Taylor, the managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Analysis and Commentary

Adam Smith On The Glory of War

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 12, 2018

Yesterday I posted two quotes from Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments to back up a Glenn Greenwald claim. Based on that, it seemed that Glenn had given a very rough precis.

Analysis and Commentary

Adam Smith On The Bipartisan Support For Attacking Syria

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

With what impatience does the man of spirit and ambition, who is depressed by his situation, look round for some great opportunity to distinguish himself? No circumstances, which can afford this, appear to him undesirable. 

Analysis and Commentary

What About Capital?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In his post this morning, co-blogger Bryan Caplan attributes increased worker productivity to two factors:
1. Practice.
2. Management.

Analysis and Commentary

Applying The Oranges Principle To Dieting And Chocolate

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, April 7, 2018

In "Freakonomics Discovers Alchian's and Allen's 'Oranges Principle,'" I laid out what we UCLA Ph.D. students learned from Alchian and Allen's famous economics textbook, University Economics. By the way, Jerry Jordan announced at the recent Association for Private Enterprise Education (APEE) meetings in Las Vegas earlier this week that the book will be reissued by Liberty Fund. It's amazingly low priced.

Analysis and Commentary

Auto Arbitrage

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, April 6, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of damaged cars written off as total losses following hurricanes that hit the U.S. last year are finding new life overseas. The automobiles were caught up in floods as Hurricane Harvey pushed heavy rains and floodwater across a wide swath of the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August 2017, leaving many vehicles damaged but largely intact