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 the intersection of gender and agriculture and 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

  • 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

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.

Khatun, Mahmuda and Leif Jensen. 2014. "Reintroducing Moral Community: A New Beginning to Promote Justice for Environmental Refugees.”  Malaysian Journal of Research, 2(1): 45-55.

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

Jensen, Leif, Tse-Chuan Yang and Patricia Muñoz .  2012. "Natural Resource Dependence: Implications for Children's Schooling and Work in Chile." Society and Natural Resources, 25(1): 3-21.

Jensen, Leif and David R. Ader. 2012. "Rural Chile in Demographic Perspective." In László J. Kulcsár and Katherine Curtis (eds.), International Handbook of Rural Demography.  New York, NY: Springer.