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

Soldiers As Price Takers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

There didn’t seem to be much sense to getting killed. The war went on at its own slow, deliberate pace, and if he got himself killed it would make no difference one way or another to anyone but himself, and to his family, perhaps. Whether he was dead or not, at exactly the same moment of the twentieth century the armies would move, the machines in which the real fighting finally took place would destroy each other, the surrender would be signed . . . Survive, he remembered desperately from the lumber file, survive, survive . . .

Analysis and Commentary

Reinhardt's Misleading Data On Drug Price Differences

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, August 12, 2019

Timothy Taylor, the Conversable Economist, posted today on some highlights from the late Uwe Reinhardt’s last book, Priced Out: The Economic and Ethical Costs of American Health Care. He, following the lead of the Milken Institute Review in its excerpt of the book, shows charts comparing the cost of various health care goods and services in the United States to the cost in other countries.

Analysis and Commentary

Some Slight Freedom Of Speech In Canada

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, August 9, 2019

Last month, I spent about 18 days at my cottage in Canada. I have a few friends there who smoke cigarettes and over the last few years I’ve brought back empty cigarette packages with the plan to post about them on EconLog. I’ve never got around to it until now.

Analysis and Commentary

Casey Mulligan On Trump Versus Reagan On Trade

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Thursday, August 8, 2019

This is the humorous part of a serious analysis by University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan, who just finished a one-year stint as chief economist with President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers.

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Socialism Has Failed. Period.

by David R. Hendersonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Two economists journey through Socialist lands—and tell us what they see. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Deep-Seated Authoritarian Impulse

by David R. Hendersonvia Econlib
Tuesday, August 6, 2019

If I were a state education minister I would endeavour to make it a compulsory part of a high school curriculum for students to have at least one field excursion to see with their own eyes a mine – or for that matter an iron smelter, a big factory or an agribusiness. But ideally a mine. I wouldn’t be able to force adults to go and visit anything, but I would happily encourage anyone out there who has never been anywhere close to a coal or a metal ore mine to put it on their travel and activity “to do” list.

Analysis and Commentary

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Is Correct About The Numbers

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Monday, August 5, 2019

Numeracy Matters. Yesterday, science writer Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted: In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Mule

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Sunday, August 4, 2019

My wife and I rented the recent Clint Eastwood movie, The Mule, last night. I would give it an 8 out of 10. At various points, we paused and talk about the fact that we had no idea where the movie would go. Once it ended the way it did, it was plausible, but I wouldn’t have necessarily predicted that.

Analysis and Commentary

Casey Mulligan On Trump Versus Reagan

by David R. Hendersonvia EconLog
Friday, August 2, 2019

University of Chicago economics professor Casey Mulligan, fresh off his one-year stint as chief economist with President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, has an interesting comparison of Trump vs. Reagan on economic deregulation.

Analysis and Commentary

Kevin O'Leary's Separation Theorem

by David R. Hendersonvia The Library of Economics and Liberty
Thursday, August 1, 2019

The principle that, given perfect competition and complete markets, the productive decision is to be governed solely by the objective market criterion represented by attained wealth–without regard to the individuals’ subjective preferences that enter into their consumptive decisions–will appear repeatedly throughout this study. We will call this principle the Separation Theorem.