Claudia Goldin’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences marked the first time the prestigious Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences has been awarded to a woman by herself – without sharing it with male collaborators. The Nobel Committee credited the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University for providing “the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labour market participation through the centuries.”
Through her meticulous research, Goldin reveals the causes and primary sources of the persisting gender gap, drawing from the past to understand the present a little better. Professor Goldin takes the experiences and personal stories of women past and present into account and uses them to make sense of all the other data instead of focusing on the numbers alone. After all, economics is a social science, and these pieces are an important part of the puzzle.
Claudia Goldin’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
The economic historian, labour economist, and gender expert was born in New York and was always fascinated with learning and investigation. She graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in economics. She later pursued her M.A. and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago. A professor of economics at several universities who has received many teaching awards, Goldin became the first woman to be granted a tenured professorship in economics at Harvard in 1990. Additionally, she has held senior positions in several organizations, including the National Bureau of Economic Research and the American Economic Association. She is also part of the National Academy of Sciences and is a fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (among many others).
Goldin is also the author and editor of several books, including Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity, Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women, and The Race between Education and Technology – which she wrote with her husband, Larry Katz, and won the R.R. Hawkins Award in 2008. Her work has also inspired countless female economists, and she is considered one of the most influential female economists in the world.
What Does Claudia Goldin Say About the Gender Gap
Through her research, Claudia Goldin explains why the wage gap between genders in the workplace has persisted despite data that shows that women are now more educated than men. In Goldin’s words, “They graduate from college at much higher rates than men. They do better in high school than men do. So why are there these differences?”
Goldin studied 200 years’ worth of data about women in the workforce and found, among other things, that parenthood (motherhood specifically) is the current main factor contributing to the wage gender gap and that differences in education are no longer the primary cause behind it. “The pay gap starts to emerge a year or two after the birth of a woman’s first child. By age 45, women in the U.S. earn 55 per cent of what men do, owing to childbirth-related factors such as career interruptions and reductions in working hours.”
According to Goldin, the golden era of American women’s rights lasted from 1963 to 1973, a time of incredible progress for the women’s movement that “also produced a powerful anti-woman’s rights movement that rapidly joined with the antiabortion and anti-gay/woke lobbies to remain a potent force in America to this day.” This led to the failure of the Comprehensive Child Development Act in 1971, a bill that would have changed the game for women by creating a multibillion-dollar national daycare system.
Beyond the Wage Gap
Goldin’s interests have always centred on women. However, the impact of her research and work reaches many other areas of study. These include, of course, women’s economic history, education and the gender wage gap, but also issues related to technological change, education, and immigration.