David Hemenway

Dr. Hemenway was a panelist for the Forum’s discussions on Gun Violence and Preventing Gun Violence and The Gun Violence Epidemic and Curbing Gun Violence

David Hemenway, Ph.D., is Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.  Once a year he spends a week at the University of Vermont as a James Marsh Visiting Professor-at-Large.

Dr. Hemenway teaches classes on injury and on economics. He has won ten teaching awards at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Hemenway has written widely on injury prevention, including articles on firearms, violence, suicide, child abuse, motor vehicle crashes, fires, falls and fractures.  He headed the pilot for the National Violent Death Reporting System, which provides detailed and comparable information on suicide and homicide.

In articles on insurance, Dr. Hemenway described a general reason why low-risk individuals often buy insurance, and coined the term “propitious selection.” 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”).  An early statistics article, Why Your Classes are Larger than Average, has been anthologized in various mathematical collections.

Dr. Hemenway has written five books. Industrywide Voluntary Product Standards (1975) describes the role of voluntary standards and standardization in the U.S. economy. 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.  Prices and Choices (3rd edition) (1993) is a collection of twenty-six of his original essays applying microeconomic theory to everyday life.

Private Guns Public Health (2006) describes the public health approach to reducing firearm violence, and summarized the scientific studies on the firearms and health.

While You 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.  This readable book helps answer the questions “What is public health?” and “What is the public health approach?” To read more about this ode to public health, click here for Dr. Hemenway’s book blog.