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

Caplan On Communism

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, November 17, 2017

Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, "socialism" and "communism" were synonyms. Both referred to economic systems in which the government owns the means of production. The two terms diverged in meaning largely as a result of the political theory and practice of Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924).

Analysis and Commentary

About That Loss Of Health Insurance

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Someone tells you that you have to buy something, and levies a penalty if you don't. So you buy it. Then someone else countermands the first person's order. You no longer have to buy it. So, assuming it's not because the price of what you had to buy rose, you don't buy it. Are you worse off?

Analysis and Commentary

Scott Alexander On David Friedman's New Book

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Scott Alexander takes us through a whirlwind tour of David Friedman's book, hopefully soon to be published but available in draft form here, titled Legal Systems Very Different From Ours.

Analysis and Commentary

Without Government Who Would Hassle People Who Help The Poor?

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Malibu church that has helped the homeless for years has been asked to stop feeding people who are down on their luck.

Analysis and Commentary

Cowen On The Republican Tax Cut Bill

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tyler Cowen has written a mainly excellent piece on the Republican tax cut bill. I want to add to part of his analysis and challenge him on one of his numbers.

Analysis and Commentary

Other People's Money

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I was talking to a friend the other day about good movies that drive home basic economics. One of his favorite was Other People's Money, starring Danny Devito as Lawrence Garfield, Gregory Peck as Andrew Jorgenson, Penelope Ann Miller as Kate Sullivan and Piper Laurie as Bea Sullivan.

Analysis and Commentary

Henderson At Adrian College In Michigan

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 6, 2017

I will be giving my speech "How Economists Helped End the Draft" at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. I couldn't find anything about it at Adrian College's web site, but the above poster gives time and place.

Analysis and Commentary

Price Gouging Is Fine But Humans Are Better

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, November 6, 2017

When we economists argue against laws that prohibit price gouging during emergencies, we point out, correctly, that such laws create shortages, reduce the incentive to conserve, and discourage suppliers from supplying more. This month's Econlib Feature Article author, economist Michael L. Davis, agrees with that.

Analysis and Commentary

Reminiscences Of Rand And Buckley

by David R. Hendersonfeaturing Jennifer Burns, Russell Robertsvia EconLog
Sunday, November 5, 2017

I very much enjoyed Russ Roberts's Econtalk interview with Jennifer Burns, author of Ayn Rand: Goddess of the Market.

Analysis and Commentary

Per Capita Growth

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Saturday, November 4, 2017

We often hear about the growth rate of real GDP in various countries. But it's important to know, especially when the growth rate is low, what the growth rate of real GDP per capita is. Take Japan, which has had a feeble growth of real GDP. But it's also had a feeble growth of "capitas," that is, population.

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