Kelly Austin

Associate Professor of Sociology & Director of Health, Medicine and Society, Lehigh University

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About Kelly

Austin’s research interests include globalization and development, global health, the environment, and quantitative  and qualitative research methods. Austin also does fieldwork in Bududa, Uganda related to malaria, HIV, and community health.


How Environmental Damage Makes Women More Vulnerable to AIDS

  • Laura McKinney

In the News

Kelly Austin quoted by Lauren Stalo, "Fair Trade? New Study by Kelly Austin Exposes Unequal Exchange in Coffee Trade" Lehigh News, October 10, 2017.
Kelly Austin's research on indoor pollution discussed by "Study Finds That Elevating Women's Status Lowers Dependence on Solid Fuels," EurekAlert!, March 28, 2017.
Kelly Austin's research on the role of unemployment in predicting the female HIV rate discussed by "Research Finds Link between Unemployed Women Trading Sex for Security and High HIV Rates,", March 7, 2017.
Kelly Austin quoted on the painting project in Uganda by Talia Dunyak, "It Takes a Village to Build a Playground" Lehigh Engineering News, October 22, 2015.


"Dependency, Urban Slums, and the Forgotten Plagues: A Cross-National Analysis of Tuberculosis and Malaria in Less-Developed Nations" Sociological Perspectives 58, no. 2 (2015): 286-310.

Demonstrates that economic dependency and environmental decline lead to increased urban slum populations in less developed nations, and that nations with larger urban slum populations have higher rates of TB and malaria.

"Ecological Losses are Harming Women: A Structural Analysis of Female HIV Prevalence and Life Expectancy in Less-Developed Countries" (with Laura McKinney). Social Problems (2015).

Argues that ecological losses reduce women’s longevity via increased HIV rates, hunger, and diminished health resources. Points to the importance of ecological conditions and the efficacy of incorporating ecofeminist frameworks to explain global health and gender inequalities.

"Gendered Vulnerabilities to a Neglected Disease: A Comparative Investigation of Women's Legal Economic Rights and Social Status on Malaria Rates" (with Mark Noble and Theresa Mejia). International Journal of Comparative Sociology 55, no. 3 (2014): 204-228.

Considers the influence of both legal economic status and social dimensions of women’s status on malaria rates. Argues that women’s legal economic status has an indirect relationship on malaria rates by enhancing women’s social standing and strengthening general health provisions. Suggests that addressing issues of gender inequality in poor nations is central to tackling this persistent pandemic.

"Measuring Gender Disparity in the HIV Pandemic: A Cross-National Investigation of Female Health Resources, Income Inequality, and Disease in Less-Developed Nations" (with Mark Noble). Sociological Inquiry 8, no. 1 (2014): 102-130.

Compares the cross-national determinants of the level of female HIV prevalence to the determinants of the percentage of HIV cases among women. Suggests that analyzing the distribution of HIV cases by gender is a more appropriate way to measure gender disparities in the HIV pandemic.