David Hemenway

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David Hemenway
David Hemenway.jpg
Born 1945 (age 71–72)
Fields Economics, public health
Institutions Harvard School of Public Health
Alma mater Harvard University
Thesis Industrywide voluntary products standards (1974)
Known for Studying violence and injury prevention
Notable awards Robert Wood Johnson Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, Excellence in Science Award from the injury section of the American Public Health Association

David Hemenway (born 1945)[1] is Professor of Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has a B.A. (1966) and Ph.D. (1974) from Harvard University in economics. He is the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center. He is also currently a James Marsh Visiting Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont.[2] Hemenway has written over 130 articles and five books in the fields of economics and public health.


His most recent book, While We Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention (2009) describes more than sixty successes, and over thirty heroes who have made the world safer. Private Guns, Public Health (2006) describes the public health approach to reducing firearm violence, and summarizes scientific research on firearms and health.

Prices and Choices (3rd edition) (1993) is a collection of twenty-six of his original essays applying microeconomic theory to everyday life. Monitoring and Compliance: the Political Economy of Inspection (1985) describes the importance of inspection processes in ensuring that regulations are followed, and the reasons the system often fails. Industry-wide Voluntary Product Standards (1975) describes the role of voluntary standards and standardization in the U.S. economy.

Economics research[edit]

Hemenway described in several articles a general reason why low-risk individuals often buy insurance,[3][4] and coined the term “propitious selection.”[5] Recent economic studies have focused on empirically determining which goods are more and less positional (e.g., bought largely to “keep up with the Joneses”).[6][7][8] An early statistics article, Why Your Classes are Larger than Average, has been anthologized in various mathematical collections.[9][10]

Injury prevention research[edit]

Hemenway has written widely on injury prevention, including articles on firearms, violence, suicide, child abuse, motor vehicle crashes, fires, falls and fractures.[11]


He has won ten teaching awards at the Harvard School of Public Health.[11]

Hemenway appeared at a forum hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and made the following statement in April 2013, "Instead of it being the mark of a real man that you can shoot somebody at 50 feet and kill them with a gun, the mark of a real man is that you would never do anything like that. . . . The gun is a great equalizer because it makes wimps as dangerous as people who really have skill and bravery and so I’d like to have this notion that anyone using a gun is a wuss. They aren’t anybody to be looked up to. They’re somebody to look down at because they couldn’t defend themselves or couldn’t protect others without using a gun."[12]

Personal life[edit]

Hemenway enjoys paintball more than shooting actual guns (although he has done both), calling the latter experience "loud and dirty".[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carter, Gregg Lee (2012). Guns in American Society. ABC-CLIO. p. 549. 
  2. ^ Bio on UVT website
  3. ^ Hemenway D. Propitious selection. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 1990; 105: 1063-69
  4. ^ Hemenway D. Propitious selection in insurance. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty. 1992; 5:247-51.
  5. ^ e.g. Siegelman P. Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: An Exaggerated Threat. The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 113, No. 6 (Apr 2004), pp. 1223-1281 and Donder P, Hindriks J Adverse selection, moral hazard and propitious selection Journal of Risk and Uncertainty. 2009; 38(1): 73-86.
  6. ^ Solnick, S. J.; Hemenway, D. (2005). "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in others?". American Economic Review. 95 (2): 147–51. doi:10.1257/000282805774669925. 
  7. ^ Solnick, S. J.; Hemenway, D. (2007). "Positional Goods in the United States and China". Journal of Socio-Economics. 36: 537–45. doi:10.1016/j.socec.2006.12.012. 
  8. ^ Solnick, S. J.; Hemenway, D. (2009). "Do Spending Comparisons Affect Spending and Satisfaction?". Journal of Socio-Economics. 38 (4): 568–573. doi:10.1016/j.socec.2009.03.016. 
  9. ^ Alexanderson GL (ed). The Harmony of the World: 75 Years of Mathematics Magazine. Mathematical Association of America, 2007.
  10. ^ Dudley U (ed). Is Mathematics Inevitable? Mathematics Association of America, 2008.
  11. ^ a b Curriculum Vitae available at faculty webpage.
  12. ^ Hemenway, David. "Gun Violence: Harvard School of Public Health on Research Around Preventing Violence". Webcast. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Lambert, Craig (September 2004). "Death by the Barrel". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 

External links[edit]