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Mark Robert Rank

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 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 an analysis of the importance of individualism in shaping how inequality is understood. His most recent book is entitled, "The Random Factor: How Chance and Luck Profoundly Shape Our Lives and the World Around Us." In addition, he has published articles in many academic journals across a wide variety of fields.

Dr. Rank has received numerous awards over the years for his scholarship and books, and his research has been widely reported throughout the news media. His work has been cited in virtually every major newspaper in the country, frequently in The New York Times and The Washington Post. He has also been featured in other media outlets including various programs on National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, CNN, PBS NewsHour, 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 1.5 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