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Mark Robert Rank

Professor of Social Welfare, Washington University in St Louis

Mark Robert Rank is the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at Washington University in St. Louis. He is recognized as a foremost expert on issues of poverty, inequality and social justice. His research on the life course risk of poverty has demonstrated for the first time that a majority of Americans will experience poverty at some point during their lives.

To date he has written 10 books on a range of subjects, including an exploration of the American Dream, a new understanding of poverty and inequality, and the role of luck and chance in shaping the course of our lives. In addition, he has published articles in numerous academic journals across a wide variety of fields.

Rank’s research has been reported widely throughout the news media, and cited in virtually every major newspaper in the country. He has also been featured in other media outlets including various programs on National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others.

He has provided research expertise to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as many national organizations involved in issues of economic and social justice. His work has been cited by then-President Barack Obama, as well as Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Rank has developed a website, Confronting Poverty, that allows users to explore in greater depth the issues of poverty and economic inequality. The site, whose centerpiece is an innovative poverty risk calculator, is being used in universities and high schools across the country, along with various social justice and religious communities and organizations. To date, the website has over 1 million page views, and has had visitors from more than 200 countries.


  • –present
    Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare, Washington University in St Louis


  • 1984 
    University of Wisconsin - Madison, Ph.D. Sociology