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

CHOMP Calls Out For Patients

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 23, 2020

Believe it or not, there are times you shouldn’t shelter in place… Times you should not shelter in place When you suspect you’re having a heart attack or stroke When you are seriously or critically ill When you normally wouldn’t have given a second thought about going to the Emergency Department One of the disheartening fallouts from COVID-19 is that we are seeing some patients put off their emergency care because of fear about COVID-19 at hospitals.

Analysis and Commentary

Preliminary Report On Debate With Justin Wolfers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I thought the debate went very well. Justin Wolfers is a nice guy with a sense of humor. I particularly liked his joking around before the debate when Gene Epstein asked him how he met his American wife. I also liked his Aussie humor about New Zealand. At one point in the debate, I almost summed up my case by saying “It’s the vibe.” Fans of the Australian movie The Castle would get the humor, and I’m guessing that Justin is a fan.

In the News

Reminder Of Tomorrow's Debate

featuring David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, April 20, 2020
The U.S. economy should be liberated from the government’s lockdowns right away.
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The Assault on Wealth

by David R. Hendersonvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

Socialism may seem cool all of a sudden, but confiscating wealth is just plain wrong—and does nothing to help the poor or anyone else.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson Versus Wolfers On The Shutdown

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, April 19, 2020

On Tuesday, April 21 at 6:00 p.m. EDT, I’ll be debating Justin Wolfers about whether the lockdowns should be ended immediately.

Analysis and Commentary

When Ignorant Bureaucrats Make Your Decisions For You

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, April 17, 2020

EVEN IF 70 percent of county residents follow all the social-distancing rules, Monterey County will have an astonishing 33,000 people sick with coronavirus in the next six weeks and its hospitals will be overrun with nearly 1,000 seriously ill patients, according to data county health officer Edward Moreno presented to the board of supervisors this week.

Analysis and Commentary

Love Them Anyway

by David R. Hendersonvia The Library of Economics and Liberty
Thursday, April 16, 2020
Two years ago, I posted a poem that appears at the end of a movie about actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. The poem was written by Kent M. Keith and Ms. Lamarr liked reading it to her children. A friend and I were talking about it on the phone and we both found needed inspiration from it during these trying times.
Analysis and Commentary

Flattening The Curve And Moving The Goalposts

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, April 16, 2020

My friend and fellow economist Ben Powell, head of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University, wrote on Facebook this morning: Like many people, I’ve been following the various COVID numbers with interest and have become aware of the various data problems with many of them.

Analysis and Commentary

Is Joy Reid A Libertarian?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Or, at least, is Joy Reid someone who understands that there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

Analysis and Commentary

Whitehouse Is Right And Cruz Is Wrong

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The United States Joins OPEC. What does it tell you about Republican sincerity when supposedly “free market” Republicans are out supporting a cartel, and lose it when the cartel breaks and prices go down for consumers? As long as it’s fossil fuel interests, nothing else matters.