My academic interests are focused geographically in Southeast Asia and substantively in the areas of family sociology and population dynamics. My research examines how both are influenced by changing social, economic, and environmental conditions.
My academic interests fit under the general headings of family sociology, development sociology, and demography, and my work generally is focused geographically in the United States and Southeast Asia. My most recent research engages human migration in several ways.
a. My current research focuses on flood risk and adaptation, including possible displacement, primarily in the Philippines (with colleagues, Joy Arguillas and Florio Arguillas), but more recently along the Hudson River (with Jack Zinda, David Kay, Robin Blakely-Armitage, and Sarah Alexander).
b. Colleagues Amanda Flaim, Daniel Ahlquist, and I are completing research on the ways in which returns to migration vary according to the legal status of both out-migrants and their parents in the highlands of Thailand. This paper focuses on migration that is internal to Thailand, as some members of highland communities cannot document where they were born and thus are effectively stateless in their country of origin.
c. I have recently published work with Katie Rainwater, a graduate student in our field, on historical trends in labor migration from Thailand – with the emergence of migration flows from Thailand to the Middle East and the eventual collapse of that system, and the subsequent rise and decline of migration flows to East Asia.
d. I have also published work with Arguillas and Arguillas on how trailing husbands of nurse-migrants who leave the Philippines for Ireland adjust to taking on care-giving roles and responsibility for domestic labor when their wives become primary breadwinners.
e. Colleagues, Lee and Arguillas, and I have recently published work on emergence of international marriage migration flows from Vietnam to South Korea.
f. Arguillas and I 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.
The bulk of my earlier work focused on three topical areas: (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).
My current and past research endeavors all contribute to the courses I teach in regular rotation: 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). I introduce students to substantive results from published work and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques that produced the findings. In the Qualitative Methods course, we 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. We discuss the ethics and legalities of social science research and highlight case studies of dilemmas from the field. As part of my involvement in the Institute for Social Sciences` Evolving Family Project, I co-taught a course on the Changing Family in Asia. In that course, we 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. As I do in my course on population dynamics and social change in Asia, we underscored the processes that have transformed Asian societies over the last century. We also considered shifting gendered norms, changes in household divisions of labor, and inter-personal dynamics. In each class, students learn about the theories, data, and methods that are used to generate the information that appears in the texts they study.
Awards and Honors
- Perceptions of Climate Change-Associated Risk and Resulting Migration Impacts in New York State (2020) National Institute of Food and Agriculture
- Williams, L. B., Zhang, R., & Packard, K. (2017). Factors affecting the physical and mental health of older adults in china: The importance of marital status, child proximity, and gender. SSM - Population Health. 3:20-36.
- Lee, H., & Williams, L. B. (2016). Transnational Marriage Migration as One Solution to a Marriage Squeeze: The Case of Vietnam and South Korea, Journal of Comparative Family Studies. Journal of Comparative Family Studies. XLVII:267-288.
- Williams, L. B. (2014). W(h)ither State Interest in Intimacy? Singapore through a Comparative Lens. Sojourn. 29:132-158.
- Arguillas, M. B., & Williams, L. B. (2010). The Impact of Parents’ Overseas Employment on Educational Outcomes of Filipino Children. International Migration Review. 44:300-319.
- Williams, L. B. (2009). Attitudes toward Marriage in Northern Vietnam: What Qualitative Data Reveal about Variations across Gender, Generation, and Geography. Journal of Population Research. 26:285-304.
- 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.