Professor, Department of Global Development
Lindy Williams received her doctorate in Sociology from Brown University in 1987. Her early research focused mainly on questions to do with reproductive health and family dynamics in Southeast Asia and the United States. She spent several years at the National Center for Health Statistics before relocating to the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center and working with a team of researchers on a comparative study on aging and well-being in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, and with a second team studying human fertility in the Philippines. She joined the faculty at Cornell in 1993 and has continued to conduct research primarily in Southeast Asia and North America since then. Her substantive interests remain in the areas of family sociology and population studies and the importance of changing social, economic, and environmental conditions in relation to both.
Lindy's most recent research focuses on a range of topics pertaining to human migration.
- Her current research focuses on flood risk and various forms of adaptation, including out-migration, primarily in the Philippines (with colleagues, Joy and Florio Arguillas). She also has ongoing research that focuses on flood risk and response along the Hudson River (with Jack Zinda, David Kay, Robin Blakely-Armitage, and Sarah Alexander).
- With colleagues, Amanda Flaim and Daniel Ahlquist, she has recently completed research on the ways in which returns to migration vary according to the legal status of both out-migrants and their family members in the highlands of Thailand. Importantly, since some members of highland communities cannot document where they were born, they are effectively stateless in their country of origin. This matters particularly for the health, financial well-being, and labor outcomes of older adults.
- Lindy has also recently published work with Katie Rainwater, an advanced graduate student, on historical trends in international labor migration from Thailand. Their research documents the emergence of migration flows from Thailand to the Middle East, the eventual collapse of that system, and the subsequent rise and decline of migration flows to East Asia.
- Her recent research with Florio and Joy Arguillas examines how trailing husbands of nurses who leave the Philippines for Europe adjust to taking on care-giving roles and increasing responsibility for domestic labor as their wives become primary breadwinners.
- With colleagues, Hyunok Lee and Florio Arguillas, she has also published work on the emergence of international marriage migration flows from Vietnam to South Korea.
- She and Joy Arguillas have published research on overseas labor migration from the Philippines and effects on the children who stay behind when their parents leave, often on extended year contracts.
Much of Lindy's earlier work focused on: (1) issues surrounding family formation (for example, changing attitudes toward marriage in the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam); (2) issues surrounding fertility attitudes, intentions, and behavior (most recently among couples in the Philippines, and previously regarding both women's and men's experiences with unplanned pregnancy in the United States); and (3) factors affecting the educational attainment of children (most recently in Thailand and the Philippines).
Lindy's current and past research endeavors all inform the courses she teaches: Social Change and Population Processes in Asia (DS 6120), Qualitative Research Methods (DS 6150), Human Migration (DS 4300/6300), and Population and Development (DS 4380/6380). Students in these courses examine the historical underpinnings of each topical area and begin to answer current critical questions central to each course. Results from published work are analyzed, as are the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques used to produce the findings. In the Qualitative Methods course, students examine the full process of conducting research from identifying a potential topic, to preparing for and carrying out fieldwork, to coding transcripts and analyzing results. The course examines ethics and legalities involved in social science research and highlights case studies of dilemmas from the field. As part of her involvement in the Institute for Social Sciences' Evolving Family Project, she once co-taught a course on the Changing Family in Asia. In that course, students compared the types of questions asked, approaches taken, and findings emerging from the disciplines of Economics and Sociology regarding the institution of the family in different contexts in Asia. In that course, as well as in her course on social and demographic change in Asia, students consider the ways in which shifting gendered norms, changes in household divisions of labor, and inter-personal dynamics both influence and are influenced by changing demographic concerns. In every class, students learn about the theories, data, and methods that are used to generate the information that appears in the texts they study.
Recent Awards and Honors
- 2019 – “Establishing Baseline and Comparative Frameworks of Flood Risk Awareness, Adaptation, & Mitigation in Troy & Kingston (Phase III),” NYS Water Resources Institute Project, CaRDI-based project team (John Zinda, Robin Blakely-Armitage, David Kay, Lindy Williams, and Sarah Alexander), $52,918.
- 2017 – “Perceptions of Climate Change-Associated Risk and Resulting Migration Impacts in New York State,” Williams, PI; David Kay and Robin Blakely-Armitage, Co-PIs, Hatch, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, $82,700; Smith-Lever, $52,800.
- 2016 – Selected team member, The Atkinson Center’s Inaugural Humanities, Social Sciences, and Arts Fellows Program, $5,000.
- 2015 - “Perceptions of Risks Associated with Climate Change and Adaptive Strategies in the Philippines,” The Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Cornell, $5,000.
- 2014 – “Risks Associated with the Consequences of Climate Change and Dramatic Weather Events, and Perceptions of those Risks in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand,” the Polson Institute for Global Development, $4,100.
2020 – Lindy Williams, Marie Joy Arguillas, & Florio Arguillas, “Major storms, rising tides, and wet feet: Adapting to flood risk in the Philippines,” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.
2020 - Sneha Kumar & L.B. Williams, “Health and Marital Status of Older Chinese Couples and Implications for Intergenerational Co-residence,” Aging and Society.
2019 - Flaim, Amanda, L.B. Williams, and Daniel Ahlquist, “How Statelessness, Citizenship, and Out-migration Contribute to Stratification among Rural Elderly in the Highlands of Thailand,” Social Forces.
2018 - Arguillas, Florio, L.B. Williams, and Joy Arguillas, “Men’s Changing Productive and Reproductive Roles in Transnational Filipino Families,” Journal of Comparative Family Studies.
2018 - Rainwater, Katie and L.B. Williams, “Thai Guestworker Export in Decline: The Rise and Fall of the Thailand-Taiwan Migration System,” International Migration Review.
- 2017 - L.B. Williams, Renling Zhang and Kevin C Packard, “Factors affecting the physical and mental health of older adults in china: The importance of marital status, child proximity, and gender,” Social Science & Medicine - Population Health 3: 20-36.
- 2016 - Hyunok Lee, L.B. Williams, Florio Arguillas, “Adapting to Marriage Markets: International Marriage Migration from Vietnam to South Korea,” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 47(2): 267-288.
- 2014 - L.B. Williams, “W(h)ither State Interest in Intimacy? Singapore through a Comparative Lens,” Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. 29(1) 132-158.
- Williams, L. B., & Guest, P. (2012). Demographic Change in Southeast Asia: Recent Histories and Future Directions. Lindy Williams and Philip Guest (ed.), Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
- Doctorate, Brown University, 1987
- Master's Degree, Brown University, 1984
- Bachelor of Arts, Colby College, 1979
265 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
lbw2 [at] cornell.edu
Lindy in the news
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development
- Department of Global Development
- Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
- Global Development