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Patricia K. Smith

Professor of Economics, University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dr. Smith’s research focuses on relationships between socioeconomic status and health. Her book, “Obesity among Low Income Americans: Is Public Assistance the Problem?” examines the relationships between poverty, public assistance and obesity.

Smith’s interest in and questions about poverty, such as “why does it happen and can we prevent it?” began in childhood. Her questions about poverty helped motivate her decision to major in economics and her dissertation examined whether concern about attracting in-migration by poor people influenced states’ decisions about the level of cash assistance benefit offered. Smith’s research addresses issues related to poverty, including, food assistance programs and weight gain, and fast food consumption related to income and wealth. Smith has also worked with anthropologists to address the question of whether immigration from Central America to the U.S. improves child health. She has investigated why the rate of Medicaid births in Michigan varies by county. Smith is also dedicated to deepening students’ understanding of the difficulties of being poor by bringing the “Poverty Simulation” to the UM-Dearborn campus.

Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic University; M.A. Virginia Polytechnic University; B.A. University of Wyoming, Laramie

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