Professor of Sociology and Director, Population Studies Center

Herbert L. Smith is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been on the faculty since 1987. He has been involved in the study of the organizational aspects of hospital nursing, and their implication for the well-being of patients and nurses alike, for over 25 years. With CHOPR Professors Linda Aiken and Eileen Lake, he is a co-author of one of the foundational papers in this area, “Lower Medicare Mortality in a Set of Hospitals Known for Good Nursing Care” [Medical Care 32(8):771-787, 1984], which was the first publication to demonstrate convincingly, over a large population of hospitals, that the nursing work environment could be measured across individual nurses in a way that could be validly correlated with the mortality experience of patients in those hospitals. It has been cited over 1,000 times and is the cornerstone of a long-term research agenda that has enjoyed continuous U.S. federal funding (from the NIH) and that has been successfully replicated in many joint CHOPR projects throughout the world, including the 2009-12 RN4CAST study of the European Union. Professor Smith’s contributions focus on measurement, research design, and data analysis. Original contributions in these domains associated with this research include applications of methods for matching observational data to estimate treatment effects, and the use of a double sample to measure potential non-response bias in the study of hospital nurses. Related methodological research focuses on the cohort analysis of temporal population data. Professor Smith is an internationally recognized demographer and sociologist who has also done large-scale studies of the Chinese family planning system and the role of women’s status in the transition to lower fertility in Asia. At Penn he has served as Associate Dean for the Social Sciences (School of Arts and Sciences). At NIH, he has chaired numerous standing and special emphasis review panels. In France, he served (2009-13) as president (chair) of the Commission d’Évaluation (hiring, promotions, and evaluations) for the Institut National d’Études Démographiques, that nation’s national center for the study of population.