David J. Pate Jr., PhD

Associate Professor
Social Work

  • Affiliated Associate Professor of the Institute for Research on Poverty, UW-Madison
  • Affiliate, Collaborative Center for Health Equity, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health

Dr. David J. Pate Jr. is a leading expert on low income African-American men, fatherhood, and child support. Dr. Pate studies how black men are affected by the social welfare system and the challenges that impede their ability to attain economic security.

His research projects involve the use of qualitative research methods to examine life course events of non-custodial African-American men. This includes their ability to be gainfully employed, engage with their children, and sustain a good quality of life.


  • Ph.D., Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003
  • A.M., Social Work, University of Chicago, 1982
  • BSW, University of Detroit, 1980

Research Interests:

  • Poverty
  • Child support enforcement policy
  • The life-course perspective of low-income black males
  • Trauma and toxic stress


  • Social Work 380, #BlackLivesMatter: An Analysis and Critique of the Movement
  • Social Work 206, Introduction to Social Welfare Policy (Undergraduate Level)
  • Social Work 380, “I Am A Man: Construction of Masculinity for Black Males” Honors College (Undergraduate Level)
  • Social Work 750, Social Welfare Policy Development and Implementation (Graduate Level)
  • Social Work 851, Social Issues and Policy Analysis (Masters Level)
  • Social Work 931, Theories of Poverty and Social Welfare Policy for Children and Families
  • Social Work 952, Qualitative Research Methods (Doctoral Level)
  • Social Work 990, Research Ethics (Doctoral Level)

Honors and Service:

Current Research Projects:

  • Access to Justice for Low-Income Civil Litigants: Comparative and Longitudinal Study of Experiences with Court Systems. National Science Foundation (Law and Social Science Program) ($304,000)
    • National Science Foundation (Law and Social Science Program) ($304,000) (2014-2016)
  • Access to Justice for Low-Income Civil Litigants: A Comparative Study of How Lawyers and More Limited Forms of Legal Assistance Matter in Child Support Enforcement Proceedings.

Media Coverage:

Select Publications:

  • Tonya L. Brito, David J. Pate Jr., Daanika Gordon, and Amanda Ward, What We Know and Need to Know About Civil Gideon. 67 South Carolina L. Rev. 223 (2016)
  • Pate, David J. (2016) “The Color of Debt: Social Networks, Sanctions, and Child Support Enforcement Policy” Race and Social Problems first published online February 23, 2016. DOI 10.1007/s12552-016-9167-8
  • Patricia A. Lee King and David J. Pate Jr. (2014) “Perinatal HIV testing among African American, Caucasian, Hmong and Latina women: exploring the role of health-care services, information sources, and perceptions of HIV/AIDS.” Health Education Research 29:1:February.
  • Waldo Johnson, David J. Pate Jr. & Jarvis Givens (2010), Big Boys Don’t Cry, Black Boys Don’t Feel: The Intersection of Shame and Worry on Community Violence and the Social Construction of Masculinity among Urban African American Males: The Case of Derrion Albert. In C. Edley, Jr. and J. Ruiz de Velasco (eds.). Changing Places: How Communities Will Improve the Health of Boys of Color, University of California Press.
  • David J. Pate Jr. (2010) Life After PRWORA: The Involvement of African-American Fathers with Welfare-reliant Children and the Child Support Enforcement System," In W. Johnson (ed.), Social Work With African American Males: Health, Mental Health, and Social Policy, Oxford Press.

Curriculum Vitae