Mark Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare in the Brown School

Mark Rank


Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare, Brown School

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Mark R. Rank 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.

In the media

Fighting poverty, the Biden way

Taken as a whole, it is extremely encouraging to see a presidential administration, at last, proposing a range of policies designed to rectify the structural nature of poverty and inequality, writes Mark Rank.

Five myths about poverty

The Brown School’s Mark Rank, co-author of the new book “Poorly Understood: What America Gets Wrong about Poverty,” discusses five commons myths about poverty in America.

Stories

Five myths about the safety net

Five myths about the safety net

Given the stigmatizing misconceptions surrounding these programs, many of those in need may be reluctant to use them. Here are five of the most common myths.
Time to rethink the social safety net

Time to rethink the social safety net

There is no doubt that significant economic destruction lies ahead. But we can use this time of upheaval to rethink the importance of a social safety net that provides protection to all Americans, including the most vulnerable.
Revealing the devastating costs of childhood poverty

Revealing the devastating costs of childhood poverty

Grass-roots groups across the country have been organizing and working to fundamentally change the conditions that disenfranchise so many Americans, poor and nonpoor alike. They would do well to use “Invisible Americans” as a launching point.
New book lays out social work’s agenda for 21st century

New book lays out social work’s agenda for 21st century

Including the insights of more than 35 leading social work scholars from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and beyond, a new book grapples with 13 key areas in the profession in an effort to identify innovative solutions toward achieving a “livable life — a life in which individuals are able to thrive and reach their full potential.”
Video: What are your odds of going into poverty?

Video: What are your odds of going into poverty?

Mark Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the Brown School, has developed a calculator that can determine for the first time an American’s expected risk of poverty based on their race, education level, gender, marital status and age. Here’s a video that explains how.
When children grow up poor, the nation pays a price

When children grow up poor, the nation pays a price

In a study published in Social Work Research, we determined that childhood poverty cost the nation $1.03 trillion in 2015. This number represented 5.4 percent of the G.D.P. These costs are borne by the children themselves, but ultimately by the wider society as well.
The misunderstood social safety net

The misunderstood social safety net

Few topics are more misunderstood than the U.S. social safety net. As Congress considers making significant changes and cuts to these programs during the next few months, it is time to splash a dose of hard reality onto this subject.
What is your future risk of poverty?

What is your future risk of poverty?

A newly-redesigned poverty risk calculator, developed by Mark Rank, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the Brown School, can for the first time determine an American’s expected risk of poverty based on their race, education level, gender, marital status and age.
WashU Expert: New poverty numbers don’t give true picture of American poor

WashU Expert: New poverty numbers don’t give true picture of American poor

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its poverty numbers for 2015. The poverty rate fell to 13.5 percent from 14.8 percent the year before. The problem with these estimates is that they only provide a snapshot of who is poor in any single year, says an expert on poverty and inequality at Washington University in St. Louis.
Rank wins book award

Rank wins book award

Mark Rank has received the 2016 Society for Social Work and Research Book Award for his book “Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes.”

Poverty prospects higher than expected

For Americans, the likelihood of experiencing relative poverty at least once in their lifetime is surprisingly high, finds a new study from noted poverty expert Mark Rank, PhD, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Is this the year you join the 1 percent?

Good news for the new year: According to new research by Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell University, there’s a 1-in-9 chance that a typical American will hit the jackpot and join the wealthiest 1 percent for at least one year in her or his working life. The bad news: That same research says only an elite few get to stay in that economic stratosphere – and nonwhite workers remain among those who face far longer odds.

Fazzari to chair new sociology department in Arts & Sciences

Steven Fazzari, PhD, a leading scholar on the relationship between rising income inequality and macroeconomic trends in the United States, will be chair of the recently re-established Department of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, Barbara A. Schaal, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, has announced.
Target: Shared prosperity

Target: Shared prosperity

In “Economic Realities of the American Dream,” professors Steven Fazzari and Mark Rank examine the ­American Dream’s historical meaning, the ­traditional pathways to reach it, the current obstacles to achieving it and its viability in the future.

The American dream still possible, but more difficult to achieve, students discover

In a modern society struggling to loose the grip of a lengthy economic recession, is the American dream really attainable? The dream may still be possible, though much more difficult to achieve, say a renowned macroeconomist and one of America’s foremost experts on poverty, co-teachers of a course on the American Dream this semester at Washington University in St. Louis.

Exploring the American Dream

What is the American Dream’s role in today’s society? Experts from Washington University in St. Louis will explore this question in a panel discussion at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, in Brown Hall Lounge on the Danforth Campus. Panelists are Steven Fazzari, PhD, professor of economics in Arts & Sciences; Carter W. Lewis, playwright-in-residence in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences; and Mark R. Rank, PhD, the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the Brown School.

Nearly half of all elderly Americans will experience poverty

Nearly half of all Americans between the ages of 60 and 90 will encounter at least one year of poverty or near poverty, says a recent study by Mark R. Rank, PhD, professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. The findings are published in the current issue of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services.

Expert available: Census figures reveal broad reach of poverty in the United States

Current census figures show that one in seven Americans is living below the poverty level, a rate that nears the record poverty levels of 1960. “The latest rise in the poverty rate illustrates how many more Americans are at risk of poverty and economic insecurity in this country,” says Mark R. Rank, PhD, poverty expert and the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Nearly half of all U.S. children will use food stamps, says poverty expert

Holidays and tables full of delicious food usually go hand in hand, but for nearly half of the children in the United States, this is not guaranteed. “49 percent of all U.S. children will be in a household that uses food stamps at some point during their childhood,” says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., poverty expert at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. “Food stamp use is a clear sign of poverty and food insecurity, two of the most detrimental economic conditions affecting a child’s health.” Rank’s study, “Estimating the Risk of Food Stamp Use and Impoverishment During Childhood,” is published in the current issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Video available.

Widening racial gap exists in key factors for economic well-being, according to new study

“With President Obama now approaching six months in office, some have suggested that we have gone beyond race as a major dividing line in society. Yet nothing could be further from the truth,” says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis. “One of the fundamental fault lines in American society continues to be the ongoing racial disparities in economic well-being.” Using 30 years of data, Rank examined three key factors in attaining economic well-being: owning a home and building equity; attaining affluence and avoiding poverty; and possessing enough assets to survive economic turmoil, or a “rainy day fund.” “The results indicate that within each area, the economic racial divide across the American life course is immense,” Rank says.

WUSTL professors offer analysis on election night

Election night media coverage will feature three professors from Washington University on KETC-TV, Channel 9. The professors will be among local political experts and citizens invited to participate in the station’s multimedia collaboration with the St. Louis Beacon, an online journal.

New research reveals surprising lifetime risk of economic insecurity among Americans

Recent economic events have shaken the confidence of many Americans with respect to their ability to achieve the “American dream.” “With rising numbers of home foreclosures, job cuts, and loss of savings, more Americans are encountering severe periods of economic risk and insecurity in their lives,” says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., poverty expert and professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis.

High rates of food insecurity, food stamp use show Americans’ economic vulnerability, says social welfare expert

Many Americans are faced with the fear of going hungry.Most Americans don’t think they’ll ever be faced with the question of how they will get their next meal, but a recent study co-authored by a social welfare expert at Washington University in St. Louis shows that at least 42 percent of the U.S. population will deal with food insecurity during their lifetime. “Food insecurity goes beyond the fear of going hungry,” explains Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the university’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work. “Food insecurity means that people are unable to provide themselves and their families nutritionally adequate food on a regular basis.

Eliminating American poverty tied to homeland security, says poverty expert

Although the focus of homeland security has been on reducing the threat of terrorism, the growing threat of poverty is rapidly undermining the nation’s economic vitality and has fueled rising disillusionment, says one of the nation’s leading scholars of poverty issues. “We need to wake up in America and realize that our homeland security is tied as much if not more to the fact that huge numbers of Americans are being left behind economically, and that as a result, the American Dream is quickly turning into an American nightmare,” says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at Washington University in St. Louis.

Inequalities in schools and neighborhoods focus of daylong conference Feb. 27

Social inequalities in schools and neighborhoods will be addressed by leading national scholars as well as prominent local scholars, experts and activists during a daylong conference Feb. 27 at Washington University. WUSTL’s Program in Social Thought & Analysis (STA) in Arts & Sciences is sponsoring the conference, titled “Inequalities in Schools & Neighborhoods: St. Louis and Beyond.”

Lecture series at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work to explore economic inequality in American society

As part of Washington University’s Sesquicentennial celebration, Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., the Herbert S. Hadley Professor of Social Welfare at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work (GWB), will host a lecture series titled “Exploring the Impact of Economic Inequality Upon American Society.” The series will kick off Jan. 21 with a lecture by Ichiro Kawachi, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and director of the Harvard Center for Society and Health, on “”Why Inequality is Harmful to Your Health,” at 1:10 p.m. in Brown Hall Lounge.

Americans have the best chance of becoming wealthy if they marry but remain childless, study shows

Photo courtesy of Tom Paule PhotographyMarrying for love … and money.Becoming wealthy and creating a happy family are two key components to achieving the American Dream, but do marriage and children have any impact on your chances of becoming rich? “Marriage substantially increases a person’s likelihood of becoming affluent,” says Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of a study out this month that looks at earnings over the course of a person’s lifetime. “Having children, however, significantly lowers the probability of becoming wealthy for all people,” Rank adds.

Books

Poorly Understood

Poorly Understood

What America Gets Wrong About Poverty

What if the idealized image of American society—a land of opportunity that will reward hard work with economic success—is completely wrong? Few topics have as many myths, stereotypes, and misperceptions surrounding them as that of poverty in America. The poor have been badly misunderstood since the beginnings of the country, with the rhetoric only ratcheting […]
Toward a Livable Life

Toward a Livable Life

A 21st Century Agenda for Social Work

Historically, social workers have confronted and alleviated many of society’s most far-reaching and seemingly intractable challenges. As we move further into the 21st century, however, the field faces a renewed call to action as critical problems become more deeply and widely engrained in the world’s social fabric. Enlisting the insights of leading social work scholars, […]