David Henderson (1927-2018), RIP


We are sad to note the death of our good friend and strong ally, David Henderson, on September 30th in London. After a career as an academic economist and top economist at international institutions, including as head of economics at the OECD, David became a public defender of free markets and classical liberal economics and a most perceptive critic of corporate social responsibility.    

He also became interested in climate issues and contributed critical analyses of the manifold shortcomings of the Stern Review and IPCC scenarios. Here is an example of his popular writing from The Wall Street Journal on July 31st, 2017. David was the founding chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s academic advisory council. 

David was a stern logician and always insistent about getting the details of any issue precisely clear and correct. His rigor and wit were well displayed in his 1985 Reith Lectures, titled “Innocence and Design: the Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy.” In those lectures broadcast on BBC radio, he decried the prevalence of what he called “do-it-yourself economics” among political decision makers, an unfortunate tendency that has only gotten worse.   

He was also unfailingly cheerful and good fun, a stimulating conversationalist, and a model of kindness and considerateness. I had the good fortune to work with him in the climate debate for over a decade and also when the Competitive Enterprise Institute in 2004 republished his The Role of Business in the Modern World, originally published by the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. I shall miss him, as will Fred Smith, Iain Murray, Marlo Lewis, Ivan Osorio, and all of us at CEI who had the pleasure to work with him over the years.     

The Global Warming Policy Foundation published a short obituary by his son, John Henderson, and the IEA another by Len Shackleton. Martin Wolf wrote a longer appreciation in the Financial Times.           

Editor’s note: The American economist David R. Henderson, longtime professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, is still alive and well and serving as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.