J. Michael Collins is Professor of Public Affairs and Human Ecology, as well as the Faculty Director of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty, and the Center for Demography and Ecology. Collins studies consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings and investment choices.
His work includes the study of financial capability with a focus on low-income families. He directed the Social Security Administration Financial Literacy Research Consortium site at Wisconsin (2009-2012). He is involved in studies of mortgage foreclosure and family well-being supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, financial counseling supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and emergency savings policies for the C.S. Mott Foundation.
Collins brings nearly a decade of applied experience to his research. He founded PolicyLab Consulting Group, a research consulting firm working with national foundations and government agencies, and co-founded MortgageKeeper Referral Services, an online database for mortgage servicers and counselors. He also worked for NeighborWorks America (Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation) and the Millennial Housing Commission.
In 2016, Collins received a Vilas Associates Award from UW-Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education for his project “Financial Capabilities and Medication Persistence and Adherence: A Randomized Trial.”
He holds a Ph.D. in policy analysis from Cornell University, a master's degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a B.S. from Miami University (OH).