Leif Jensen, Ph.D.

Leif Jensen, Ph.D.

  • Distinguished Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography
111C Armsby
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Social Stratification
  • Demography
  • International Development
  • Rural Sociology


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


Research Interests

My research is found within three broad areas. The first is social stratification with emphasis on poverty, inequality, underemployment, informal work, and  household livelihood strategies. Much of this work focuses on rural populations and rural-urban differences. My second area of specialization is demography with particular attention to migration and immigration. Cutting across my interest in stratification and demography is work on rural population health and aging. Third, I'm also interested in international development with a focus on gender and agriculture.

Outreach/Extension Interests

Although 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

  • RSOC 517:  International Rural Social Change
  • RSOC 530: The Sociology and Demography of U.S. Poverty
  • CED 425: International Community and Economic Development

Recent Selected Publications

Fowler, Christopher S. and Leif Jensen.  2020. "Bridging the Gap Between Geographic Concept and the Data We Have: The Case of Labor Markets in the U.S." Environment and Planning A, forthcoming.

Slack, Tim, Brian C. Thiede, and Leif Jensen. 2020. "Race, Residence, and Underemployment: 50 Years in Comparative Perspective, 1964-2017." Rural Sociology, forthcoming.

Jensen, Leif, Ann R. Tickamyer, and Tim Slack. 2019. "Rural-Urban Variation in Informal Work Activities in the United States." Journal of Rural Studies, 68: 276-284.

Larson, Janelle B., Paige Castellanos, and Leif Jensen. 2019. "Gender, Household Food Security, and Dietary Diversity in Western Honduras." Global Food Security, 20: 170-179.

Bikketi, Edward, Esther Njuguna-Mungai, Leif Jensen and Edna Johnny. 2019. "Kinship Structures, Gender, and Groundnut Productivity in Malawi." Chapter 13 (pp. 221-238) in Carolyn E. Sachs (ed.), Gender, Agriculture and Agrarian Transformations. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ganguly, Sujata, Leif Jensen, Samarendu Mohanty, Sugandha Munshi, Arindam Samaddar, Swati Nayak, and Prakashan Chellattan Veettil. 2019. "Changes in participation of women in Rice Value Chains: Implications for control over decision-making." Chapter 14 (pp. 239-253) in Carolyn E. Sachs (ed.), Gender, Agriculture and Agrarian Transformations. New York, NY: Routledge.

Scott, Karen, C. Clare Hinrichs, and Leif Jensen. 2018. "Re-imagining the Good Life." Journal of Rural Studies, 59: 127-131.

Jensen, Leif. 2018. "Understanding Rural Social Class in an Era of Global Challenge." Rural Sociology, 83(2):227-243.

Wornell, Emily J., Leif Jensen, Ann R. Tickamyer. 2018. "The Role of Informal Work in the Livelihood Strategies of U.S. Households." Chapter 7 (pp. 117-138) in Ioana A. Horodnic, Peter Rogers, Colin C. Williams, and Legha Momtazian (eds.) The Informal Economy: Exploring Drivers and Practices. New York, NY: Routledge.

Yang, Tse-Chuan and Leif Jensen.  2017. "Climatic conditions and human mortality: Spatial and regional variation in the United States." Population and Environment, 38(3):261-285.

Slack, Tim, Michael R. Cope, Leif Jensen, Ann R. Tickamyer. 2017. "Social Embeddedness, Formal Labor Supply, and Participation in Informal Work." International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 37(3/4): 248-264.

Kazeem, Aramide and Leif Jensen. 2017. "Orphan Status, School Attendance, and Relationship to Household Head in Nigeria." Demographic Research, 36(22): 659-690.

Jensen, Leif and Danielle M. Ely. 2017. "Measures of Poverty and Implications for Portraits of Rural Hardship."  In Jennifer Sherman, Ann R. Tickamyer and Jennifer Warlick (eds.), Rural Poverty in the U.S.A. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Fowler, Christopher S., Danielle C. Rhubart and Leif Jensen. 2016. "Reassessing and Revising Commuting Zones for 2010: History, Assessment, and Updates for U.S. Labor Sheds, 1990-2010."  Population Research and Policy Review, 35: 263-286.

Yang, Tse-Chuan and Leif Jensen. 2015. "Exploring the inequality-mortality relationship using Bayesian spatial modeling." Population Research and Policy Review, 34: 437-460.

Bailey, Conner, Leif Jensen and Elizabeth Ransom. 2014. Rural America in a Globalizing World: Problems and Prospects for the 2010s.  Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.