Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

John B. Williamson

Sociology Department

John Williamson


Ph.D., Harvard University

McGuinn Hall 424
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Phone: 617-552-8530

Curriculum Vitae

Personal website


Scholarly Interests

  • Sociology of aging and the life course/social gerontology
  • Comparative social security policy
  • Pension policy/retirement security policy
  • The politics of aging/the political economy of aging
  • Ageism/aging and inequality/older workers/aging and technology
  • Cross-national social indicator research dealing with such issues as inequality, status of women, quality of life/well being, infant/child mortality, life expectancy, corruption, and suicide.

Academic Profile

John B. Williamson is currently a professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston College. He is an affiliated researcher at the Center for Retirement Research, and a research fellow at the Center on Aging and Work. His SB degree is from MIT and his Ph.D. is from Harvard University.

He has served as a vice president of the Gerontological Society of America. He is currently an associate editor of The Gerontologist (for public policy studies) and on the editorial board of five other journals. Much of his research focuses is on the comparative study of old-age security and the debate over generational equity.

His books deal with such topics as the politics of aging, the senior movement, and social security. Recently he has published on such topics as ageism and the future of retirement security. He has written much about the partial privatization of pension systems and alternatives to privatization such as the use of notional defined contribution (NDC) schemes. Much of his recent work focuses in developments in East Asia, particular China and Japan. For a full list of publications Google “John B. Williamson” or go to

Courses Typically Taught

SOCY1097 - Death and Dying
SOCY5540 - Internship in Sociology I
SOCY5541 - Internship in Sociology II
SOCY7703 - Multivariate Statistics

Professional Honors and Awards

Appointed Associate Editor for Policy Studies, The Gerontologist, 2011-2016.

Elected Member, Executive Board, Research Committee on the Sociology of Aging (RC11), International Sociological Association, 2010-2014.

Elected Chair, Social Research, Policy, and Practice Section, Gerontological Society of America, 2007.

Elected Secretary/Treasurers, Section on Aging and the Life Course, American Sociological Association, 1996.

Elected Fellow in the Gerontological Society of America, 2001.

Elected to membership in the National Academy of Social Insurance, 1991.

Elected Chair, Youth, Aging and Life Course Division, Society for the Study of Social Problems, 1984.

Selected Publications

Wang, Xinmei, John B. Williamson, and Mehmet Cansoy. 2016. "Developing Countries and Systemic Pension Reforms: Reflections on Some Emerging Problems," International Social Security Review 69(2): 85-106.

Williamson, John B. and Daniel Béland. 2016. “The Future of Retirement Security in Comparative Perspective.” Pp. 461-481 in Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences, (8th edition) Edited by Linda K. George and Kenneth F. Ferraro. San Diego: Academic Press.

McNamara, Tay and John B. Williamson. 2013. Unequal Prospects: Is Working Longer the Answer? New York: Routledge.

Williamson, John B., Meghan Price, and Ce Shen. 2012. “Pension Policy in China, Singapore, and South Korea: An Assessment of the Potential Value of the Notional Defined Contribution Model.” Journal of Aging Studies 26 (1): 79-89.

Williamson, John B. and Anna Rhodes. 2011. “A Critical Assessment of Generational Accounting and Its Contribution to the Generational Equity Debate.” International Journal of Ageing and Later Life 6 (1): 33-57.

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?” The Journal of Poverty and Social Justice 17 (2): 101-111.

Williamson, John B., Stephanie A. Howling and Michelle Maroto. 2006. "The Political Economy of Pension Reform in Russia: Why Partial Privatization?" Journal of Aging Studies 20 (2): 165-175.

Williamson, John B. and Matthew Williams. 2005. "Notional Defined Contribution Accounts: Neoliberal Ideology and the Political Economy of Pension Reform." American Journal of Economics and Sociology 64(2):485-506.

Williamson, John B., Diane M. Watts-Roy, and Eric R. Kingson, eds. 1999. The Generational Equity Debate. New York: Columbia University Press.

Williamson, John B. and Fred C. Pampel. 1998. "Does the Privatization of Social Security Make Sense for Developing Nations." International Social Security Review 51(4):3-31.

Williamson, John B. and Fred C. Pampel. 1993. Old Age Security in Comparative Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press. Received special mention in the 1994 Alpha Sigma Nu National Book Award competition. In 2002 was published in Chinese by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Pampel, Fred C. and John B. Williamson. 1989. Age, Class, Politics, and the Welfare State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This book was selected by the American Sociological Association for inclusion in the Rose Monograph Series. The cloth edition was published in 1989 and the paperback edition in 1992.

Pampel, Fred C. and John B. Williamson. 1988. "Welfare Spending in Advanced Industrial Democracies." American Journal of Sociology 93:1424-1456.

Pampel, Fred C. and John B. Williamson. 1985. "Age, Structure, Politics, and Cross-National Patterns of Public Pension Expenditures." American Sociological Review December 50:782-799.

Williamson, John B., Judith A. Shindul and Linda Evans. 1985. Aging and Public Policy: Social Control or Social Justice? Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.


Please note: To view Adobe Acrobat® (PDF) formatted files you will need the free Adobe Acrobat file reader.