Professor Emerita, 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 recent and ongoing research addresses a range of topics pertaining to human migration.
Her current research focuses on flood risk and various forms of adaptation, including out-migration. This research addresses flood risk and response along the Hudson River (with Jack Zinda, David Kay, Robin Blakely-Armitage, Sarah Alexander, James Zhang, and Libby Zemaitis) and in the United States more broadly (with David Kay). She has also recently done research in the Philippines on flooding and adaptation in coastal communities (with colleagues, Joy and Florio Arguillas).
A recent study with coauthors, Amanda Flaim and Daniel Ahlquist, addresses 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 own country. This matters particularly for the health, financial well-being, and labor outcomes of older adults.
Lindy has also collaborated with Katie Rainwater on historical trends in international labor migration from Thailand. Their work 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.
Earlier research with Florio and Joy Arguillas examined how trailing husbands of nurses who leave the Philippines for Europe take on care-giving roles and other responsibility for domestic labor, as their wives become primary breadwinners. Authors consider both men’s and women’s adjustments to new roles in new social contexts.
With colleagues, Hyunok Lee and Florio Arguillas, Professor Williams also published work on the emergence of international marriage migration flows from Vietnam to South Korea.
Finally, 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 duration 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 (more 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 in Thailand and the Philippines.
Lindy has retired from teaching, but her research endeavors all informed the courses she taught: 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 those courses examined the historical underpinnings of each topical area and began to answer critical questions central to each course. They analyzed results from published work, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques used to produce the findings. The Qualitative Methods course explored the process of conducting research from identifying a potential topic, to preparing for and carrying out fieldwork, to coding transcripts and analyzing results. The course highlighted ethics and legalities involved in social science research and analyzed case studies of dilemmas from the field. As part of her involvement in the Institute for Social Sciences' Evolving Family Project, she 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 considered 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.
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.
2022 – John A. Zinda, James Zhang, L.B. Williams, David Kay, Sarah Alexander, Libby Zemaitis. “Different Hazards, Different Responses: Assessments of Flooding and COVID-19 Risks among Upstate New York Residents,” Socius.
2021 - John A. Zinda, LB Williams, David L. Kay, Sarah M. Alexander. “Flood risk perception and responses among urban residents in the northeastern United States,” International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 64:102528
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
251 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
lbw2 [at] cornell.edu
Lindy in the news
Lindy Williams , professor of global development and a member of the Migrations Lab, profiled two cities in the province of Luzon as they face the risks and consequences of frequent flooding. Despite these problems, “climate-driven migration is...
- Department of Global Development
- Global Development
As the coronavirus pandemic escalated in the United States, reports of bias and hostility against immigrants and Asian Americans also grew. New research supported by a rapid response grant from the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS) will...
- Department of Global Development
- Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
- Global Development