Leif Jensen, Ph.D.

  • Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography
Leif Jensen, Ph.D.
110-A Armsby
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-8642

Areas of Expertise

  • Demography
  • Social Stratification
  • International Development
  • Rural Sociology


  1. Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin, 1987


Research Interests

My research interests are found within three broad areas. The first is social stratification with emphasis on poverty, employment and underemployment, and informal work and other household economic survival strategies.  Much of this work focuses on rural populations and rural-urban differences.  My second area of interest is demography with special attention to migration and immigration.  Finally, I'm also interested in the sociology of economic development with a focus on Latin America.

Outreach/Extension Interests

While I do not have a formal extension appointment, I do enjoy opportunities to offer presentations to community groups, advocacy organizations and others.  In recent years I've given outreach presentations on such topics as the demography of Pennsylvania, and immigrants in new destinations.

Current/Recent Courses

  • R SOC 525:  Population and Development
  • R SOC 530: The Sociology and Demography of U.S. Poverty
  • CED 425: International Community and Economic Development

Recent Selected Publications

Yang, Tse-Chuan, Leif Jensen and Murali Haran.  2011. "Social Capital and Human Mortality: Explaining the Rural Paradox with County-Level Mortality Data."  Rural Sociology, 73(3): 347-374.

Jensen, Leif, Marybeth J. Mattingly and Jessica A. Bean. 2011.  "TANF in Rural America: Informing Re-Authorization" Policy Brief, 19:1-6. The Carsey Institute, The University of New Hampshire.

Jensen, Leif and Eric B. Jensen.  2011. "Employment Hardship Among Rural Men."  Chapter 2 in Kristin Smith and Ann R. Tickamyer (eds.),  Economic Restructuring in Rural America. University Park, PA: Penn State Press.

Slack, Tim and Leif Jensen.  2011. "Underemployment among Minorities and Immigrants." Chapter 7 in Douglas C. Maynard and Daniel C. Feldman (eds.), Underemployment: Psychological, Economic and Social Challenges.  New York, NY: Springer.
Jensen, Leif, Tse-Chuan Yang and Patricia Muñoz S. 2011. "Natural Resource Dependence: Implications for Children's Schooling and Work in Chile." Society and Natural Resources, forthcoming.

Jensen, Leif and David R. Ader. 2011. "Rural Chile in Demographic Perspective." In László J. Kulcsár and Katherine Curtis (eds.), International Handbook of Rural Demography.  New York, NY: Springer, forthcoming.

Oropesa, R. S. and Leif Jensen.  2010. "Dominican Immigrants and Discrimination in a New Destination: The Case of Reading, Pennsylvania." City & Community, 9(3): 274-298.

Kazeem, Aramide, Leif Jensen and C. Shannon Stokes.  2010.  "School Attendance in Nigeria:  Understanding the Impact and Intersection of Gender, Urban-Rural Residence and Socioeconomic Status." Comparative Education Review, 54(2): 295-319.

Jomaa, Lamis H., Elaine McDonnell, Elaine Weirich, Terryl Hartman, Leif Jensen, and Claudia Probart. 2010. Student Involvement in Wellness Policies: A Study of Pennsylvania Local Education Agencies. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 42(6):372-379.

Slack, Tim and Leif Jensen.  2010.  "Informal Work in Rural America."  Chapter 12 in Enrico Marcelli, Colin C. Williams and Pascale Joassart (eds.), Informal Work in Developed Nations. New York, NY: Routledge.

Jensen, Leif and Tse-Chuan Yang. 2009. "Taken by Surprise: New Immigrants in the Rural United States." Chapter 2 in Birgit Jentsch and Myriam Simard (eds.), International Migration and Rural Areas - Global Perspectives .  Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Slack, Tim and Leif Jensen.  2008. "Birth and Fortune Revisited: A Cohort Analysis of Underemployment, 1974-2004."  Population Research and Policy Review , 27(4): 729-749.

Jensen, Leif and Eric B. Jensen.  2008.  "Poverty." In Gary A. Goreham (ed.), Encyclopedia of Rural America: The Land and People . Milllerton, NY: Grey House Publishing.

Slack, Tim and Jensen, Leif.  2008. "Employment Hardship among Older Workers: Does Residential and Gender Inequality Extend into Older Age?"  Journals of Gerontology ,63(1): S15-S24.