Claudia Goldin became the third woman to receive the Nobel Prize in economics as the US professor was awarded for her research into the factors that explain pay gaps between men and women.
(Bloomberg) — Claudia Goldin became the third woman to receive the Nobel Prize in economics as the US professor was awarded for her research into the factors that explain pay gaps between men and women.
Goldin will receive a 11 million-krona ($1 million) award, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm said in a statement Monday.
“Understanding women’s role in the labor market is important for society,” Jakob Svensson, chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences said in a statement. “Thanks to Claudia Goldin’s groundbreaking research, we now know much more about the underlying factors and which barriers may need to be addressed in the future.”
Born in 1946 in New York, Goldin is a professor at Harvard University who used more than 200 years of data to show that while the pay gaps could historically be explained by differences in education and occupational choices, they now exist mainly between men and women in the same jobs, and arise with the birth of the first child.
That understanding provides a basis for policymakers globally to address the situation, Randi Hjalmarsson, a professor of economics at the University of Gothenburg, told a press conference after announcing the award.
“You can’t treat an illness with a medication without knowing what it is and what causes it,” she said. “She has provided this underlying foundation that has different policy implications in different countries and different contexts around the world.”
Goldin combined innovative methods in economic history with an economic approach, demonstrating that the supply and demand for female labor have historically been influenced by their opportunities for combining paid work and a family, decisions relating to education and childrearing, technical innovations such as the contraceptive pill, laws and norms, and the structural transformation of the economy.
She also revealed “a surprising new historical fact: prior to the rise of industrialization in the nineteenth century, women were more likely to participate in the labor force,” the academy said. That was in part because “industrialization made it harder for many married women to work from home and so combine work and family,” compared with life on the family farm.
The difference in pay between men and women could be reduced if employers allowed employees more flexibility in choosing the hours when they work, Goldin said in a 2014 address to the American Economic Association. Wage gaps are smaller in industries with more flexible schedules, such as healthcare and technology, she said.
Goldin follows two other women — Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019 — in being awarded the prize in economic sciences.
Last year’s laureates were Ben Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond and Philip H. Dybvig for research on banks and financial crises. Previous recipients of the accolade include Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Milton Friedman and Robert J. Shiller.
Annual prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who died in 1896.
The economic sciences award was added by Sweden’s central bank in 1968, called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
–With assistance from Thomas Hall, Ott Ummelas and Love Liman.
(Updates with details throughout.)
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