Christopher Jencks

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Christopher Jencks
Born(1956-10-22)22 October 1956
Occupationsocial scientist

Christopher Sandys Jencks (born October 22, 1936, Baltimore, Maryland) is an American social scientist.


Jencks is currently the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1954 and was president of the school's newspaper, the Exonian, as a senior.[1] After Exeter, he received an A.B. in English literature from Harvard in 1958, followed by a M.Ed. in Harvard Graduate School of Education. During the year 1960-1961 he studied sociology at the London School of Economics. He has previously held positions at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

His interests are in the study of education, social stratification, social mobility, poverty and the poor. His recent research concerns changes in family structure over the past generation, the costs and benefits of economic inequality, the extent to which economic advantages are inherited and the effects of welfare reform. Prior to his university career, he was an editor at The New Republic from 1961 to 1967 and a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC from 1963 to 1967. He served as an editor of The American Prospect.


Jencks was on the dissertation committee of former member of The Heritage Foundation Jason Richwine, who completed his Ph.D. thesis, "IQ and Immigration Policy", at Harvard's Kennedy School. Criticized for the way it linked race to I.Q. levels, the thesis lost Richwine his job at the Foundation. Asked to pass comment on his involvement in what journalist and historian Jon Wiener calls a "travesty," Jencks replied "Nope. But thanks for asking."[2]

Prizes, awards and honors[edit]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • The Academic Revolution (with David Riesman, 1968, reissued 2001)
  • Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effects of Family and Schooling in America (with seven co-authors, 1972)
  • Who Gets Ahead? (with eleven co-authors, 1979)
  • The Urban Underclass (with Paul Peterson, 1991)
  • Rethinking Social Policy (1992)
  • The Homeless (1994)
  • The Black-White Test Score Gap (with Meredith Phillips, 1998)


  • Postman, Neil; Weingartner, Charles (1973), The School Book, Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence