John B. Williamson

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John B. Williamson is a Professor of Sociology who specializes in gerontology, social policy and social welfare.He joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Boston College in 1969 after completing his Ph.D. in social psychology at Harvard University. He is also affiliated with the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. Over the course of his career professor Williamson has published 16 books and well over 100 journal articles and book chapters.

Primary Focus[edit]

A core area of Professor Williamson’s research has been social policy and aging. He has written widely on questions surrounding social security, the generational equity debate, and the senior movement. This work has been published in such journals as: International Social Security Review, The Gerontologist, Research on Aging, Journal of Aging and Social Policy, Generations, and Journal of Aging Studies. His writing has contributed to the debate over the proposed partial privatization of Social Security in the United States and to the corresponding debate internationally. He has contributed to the literature on the Notional Defined Contribution (NDC) model as an alternative to funded individual accounts, particularly for developing countries such as China. His writing on the generational equity debate emphasizes the need for a fair distribution both within and across generations with respect to the allocation of resources such as pensions and health care benefits and burdens.

Social Security Reform[edit]

Recently, Professor Williamson has focused on pension reform in China. His work has raised critical issues with respect to the viability of funded individual accounts for China and other nations at a similar level of economic development. He proposes alternatives based on the Notional Defined Contribution (NDC) model that do not subject workers’ pensions to the fluctuations in financial markets. In addition he has written a book titled Old Age Security in Comparative Perspective (co-authored with Fred Pampel).

Professor Williamson has also written widely on cross-national social indicator research. This writing includes his co-authored book (with Fred Pampel) entitled Age, Class, Politics, and the Welfare State (1989) which was selected by the American Sociological Association for inclusion in the prestigious Rose monograph series. In addition, his many journal articles on social indicators have been published in such journals as The American Sociological Review, The American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Problems, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Social Science and Medicine, Social Indicators Research, Sociological Inquiry, Sociological Perspectives, and Comparative Social Research. This writing addresses such topics as cross-national differences in pension policy, life expectancy, income distribution, social welfare effort, quality of life, child mortality, government corruption levels, as well as environmental sustainability and degradation.

Earlier in his career Professor Williamson addressed questions around poverty, social problems, and corresponding policy initiatives. This work is reflected in the following book titles: Thinking about Poverty in the U.S., Poverty and Public Policy, Social Problems: The Contemporary Debates, and Strategies against Poverty in America.

Professor Williamson has been very active in a range of professional societies and organizations. In 2007-2008 he served as Vice President of the Gerontological Society of America. At the same time he was chair of the society’s section on Social Research, Policy and Practice. He currently serves as an elected member of the Executive Board, of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on the Sociology of Aging. In 1991 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Social Insurance. He has also been elected as the Secretary/Treasurer of the American Sociological Association’s Section on the Sociology of Aging and the Life Course. In addition, he has been elected Chair for the Society for the Study of Social Problems’ section on Youth, Aging and the Life Course and its section on Poverty, Class and Inequality. Professor Williamson has also offered testimony at hearings held by the Advisory Council on Social Security.

Book publications[edit]

  • Gray, Paul S., John B. Williamson, David A. Karp, John Dalphin, Karen Bettez Halnon, and James Carritte. 2007. The Research Imagination. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Williamson, John B., Diane M. Watts-Roy and Eric R. Kingson, eds. 1999. The Generational Equity Debate. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Powell, Lawrence A., Kenneth J. Branco and John B. Williamson. 1996. The Senior Rights Movement: Framing the Policy Debate in America. New York: Twayne Publishers.
  • Williamson, John B. and Edwin S. Shneidman, eds. 1995. Death: Current Perspectives. 4th ed. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company.
  • Williamson, John B. and Fred C. Pampel. 1993. Old Age Security in Comparative Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Wallace, Steven P. and John B. Williamson. 1992. The Senior Movement. New York: G.K. Hall (Macmillan).
  • Pampel, Fred C. and John B. Williamson. 1989. Age, Class, Politics, and the Welfare State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Williamson, John B., Judith A. Shindul and Linda Evans. 1985. Aging and Public Policy: Social Control or Social Justice? Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.
  • Williamson, John B., Linda Evans, Lawrence A. Powell and Sharlene Hesse-Biber. 1982. The Politics of Aging: Power and Policy. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.
  • Johnson, Elizabeth S. and John B. Williamson. 1980. Growing Old. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Williamson, John B., Linda Evans, Anne Munley, Barbara H. Vinick and Sharlene Hesse-Biber. 1980. Aging and Society. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Woods, Daniel W. and John B. Williamson. 1988. Thinking about Poverty in the U.S.: Problems and Policies. New York: Walker and Company.
  • Morris, Michael and John B. Williamson. 1986. Poverty and Public Policy: An Analysis of Federal Intervention Efforts. New York: Greenwood Press.
  • Williamson, John B., Linda Evans and Michael Rustad, eds. 1985. Social Problems: The Contemporary Debates. 4th ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
  • Williamson, John B., David A. Karp, John R. Dalphin, Paul S. Gray, Stephen T. Barry, and Richard S. Dorr. 1982. The Research Craft. 2nd ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.
  • Willamson, John B., Jerry F. Boren, Frank J. Mifflen, Nancy A. Cooney, Linda Evans, Michael F. Foley, Richard Steinman, Jody Garber, Nancy Theberge and Donna J. B. Turek. 1975. Strategies against Poverty in America. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Journal articles and book chapters[edit]

  • Watts-Roy, Diane M. and John B. Williamson. (2009). “ Public Pension Programs—Social Security.” pp. 407–428 in International Handbook of the Demography of Aging, edited by Peter Uhlenberg. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  • Williamson, John B., Ce Shen, and Yinan Yang. (2009) “Which Pension Model Holds the Most Promise for China: A Funded Defined Contribution Scheme, A Notional Defined Contribution Scheme, or a Universal Social Pension?” Benefits: The Journal of Poverty and Social Justice 17 (2): 101-111.
  • Zheng, Bingwen, John Williamson, and Esteban Calvo (2009). “A Comparative Study of Social Security in China and Latin America: Traditional Culture and Institutional Arrangements—From the Point View of Enlarging the Coverage.” Journal of Latin American Studies 31 (1): 3-12.
  • Williamson, John B. and Diane M. Watts-Roy. 2009. “Aging Boomers, Generational Equity, and Framing the Debate over Social Security.” pp. 153–169 in Boomer Bust? Economic and Political Issues of the Graying Society, Vol. 1, edited by Robert B. Hudson. Westport, CT:Praeger.
  • Higo, Masa and John B. Williamson. 2009. “Retirement.” pp. 328–336 in Encyclopedia of the Life Course and Human Development, edited by Deborah Carr. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
  • Sano, Joelle and John B. Williamson. 2008. “Factors Affecting Union Decline in 18 OECD Countries and Their Implications for Labor Movement Reform.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 49 (6): 479-500.
  • Johnson, Jessica K. M. and John B. Williamson. 2008. “Universal Non-Contributory Pension Schemes for Low-Income Countries: An Assessment,” pp. 195–209 in Social Protection in an Ageing World, International Series on Social Security, Vol. 13, edited by Peter A. Kemp, Karel Van dan Bosch, and Lindsey Smith. Antwerp, Belgium: Intersentia.
  • Calvo, Esteban and John B. Williamson. 2008. “Old-Age Pension Reform and Modernization Pathways: Lessons for China from Latin America.” Journal of Aging Studies 22 (1): 74-87.
  • Williamson, John B. 2007. "Social Security Reform and Responsibility across the Generations: Framing the Debate." pp. 311–331 in Challenges of an Aging Society Ethical Dilemmas, Political Issues, edited by Rachel A. Pruchno and Michael A. Smyer. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Joyce, Kelly, John Williamson, and Laura Mamo. 2007. “Technology, Science, and Ageism: An Examination of Three Patterns of Discrimination.” Indian Journal of Gerontology 21 (2): 110-127.
  • Williamson, John B. and Renée Beard. 2007. “ Koureisha Sedai no Shakai Hoshou [Securing Old Age: The Role of the American Senior Rights Movement].” pp. 37–63 in Shakaiseisaku Kenkyu: Shiminkatsudo NPO to Shakaiseisaku [Social Policy Studies: Social Movements, NPO, and Social Policies], edited by Kenichi Tominaga. Tokyo: Toshindo.