Menu Close
Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography, Penn State

Leif Jensen is Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education, College of Agricultural Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Social Science Research Institute. He received his undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Vermont (1980), and an M.S. (1982) and Ph.D. (1987) in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His areas of specialization include demography, social stratification, and the sociology of economic change. He has published two books and more than 80 journal articles and book chapters on a range of topics including poverty and inequality, the correlates of human mortality rates, underemployment and other forms of employment hardship, informal work and household economic strategies, the circumstances and well-being of U.S. immigrants and their children, new immigrant destinations, and international development. Much of his work focuses on rural people and places, and rural disadvantage. Over the years his research program has been supported by grants from NSF, NIH, USDA, and USAID, as well as the Ford, Spencer and Russell Sage foundations. Jensen is a Policy Fellow of the Carsey School of Public Policy (University of New Hampshire). He has been a Fulbright Scholar (1997) and was named Distinguished Professor in 2011. He served as Director of Penn State’s Population Research Institute (2003-06), and as President of the Rural Sociological Society (2015-16).


  • –present
    Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography, Pennsylvania State University


  • 1987 
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sociology