This year, the Nobel Prize in economics was given to Claudia Goldin, an American who specializes in economic history, for her contributions to understanding women’s work and compensation. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Goldin’s work has been instrumental in identifying the main factors that contribute to the disparity in pay between men and women. She is the third female to win this award and the first to do so without male co-recipients.
Goldin, who is 77 years old, is a professor who educates students on the history of the labor market at Harvard University in the United States. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences acknowledged her for enhancing our grasp of the outcomes for women in the labor market. Her research has delved into two centuries of data on the American workforce, revealing how gender differences in pay and employment have evolved.
The awarding body stated that Goldin has offered the first all-encompassing analysis of the earnings and labor market involvement of women over the years. Her studies have not only identified the causes of change but also pinpointed the primary reasons for the existing gender pay gap. Goldin discovered that the employment of married women declined with the onset of industrialization in the 19th century but rebounded in the 20th century due to the growth of the service sector. Advancements in women’s education and the introduction of birth control pills have also played a role, although the gender pay gap persists.
Goldin’s research indicates that the current wage gap is mainly influenced by the ramifications of parenthood. Randi Hjalmarsson, a member of the prize committee, stated that Goldin’s findings have extensive societal implications and have laid the groundwork for global policy formulation in this domain. Approximately half of women are active in the labor market, compared to 80% of men. However, women generally earn less and are less likely to climb the corporate ladder, as noted by the prize committee.
In 1989, Goldin became the first female to secure a tenured position in Harvard’s economics department. She expressed to the BBC in 2018 that the field of economics still faces a perception issue among women. She suggested that if economics were more clearly defined as a study of “inequality, health, household behavior, society,” then the gender balance in the field would likely improve.
Goldin also maintains a blog on her website where she writes about her golden retriever, Pika. The economics prize is distinct from the original Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace, which were initiated by Alfred Nobel in 1901. The economics prize was established in 1968 and is funded by Sweden’s central bank. The first female recipient of the economics prize was Elinor Ostrom in 2009, followed by Esther Duflo in 2019, who shared the prize with her spouse Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer for their work focusing on impoverished communities in India and Kenya.