Harvard University professor Claudia Goldin has been honored with the 2023 Nobel Economics Prize for her contributions to advancing our comprehension of women’s labor market outcomes. This recognition makes her the third woman to receive the Nobel Prize in economics.
Goldin will be granted a prize of 11 million krona (equivalent to $1 million), as announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
Jakob Svensson, the chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences, emphasized the significance of comprehending women’s roles in the labor market, acknowledging Claudia Goldin’s pioneering research for shedding light on the underlying factors behind gender pay gaps and the potential barriers that need addressing.
Born in 1946 in New York, Claudia Goldin utilized more than two centuries of data to unveil that while historical pay disparities could be attributed to differences in education and career choices, contemporary disparities primarily emerge between men and women occupying the same positions, particularly upon the birth of a child.
This understanding serves as a foundation for policymakers worldwide to tackle this issue effectively, according to Randi Hjalmarsson, an economics professor at the University of Gothenburg, who spoke at a press conference following the award announcement.
Goldin blended innovative methods from economic history with an economic approach, demonstrating how the historical supply and demand for female labor have been influenced by factors such as opportunities for balancing work and family life, educational and child-rearing decisions, technological advancements like the contraceptive pill, legal regulations, social norms, and economic transformations.
She also highlighted an intriguing historical observation: before the onset of industrialization in the nineteenth century, women were more inclined to participate in the labor force. This was partly because industrialization made it more challenging for married women to work from home while managing family responsibilities, in contrast to life on family farms.
Goldin proposed that reducing the gender pay gap could be achieved by offering employees greater flexibility in choosing their work hours. She emphasized that industries with more flexible schedules, such as healthcare and technology, tend to have smaller wage gaps.
Claudia Goldin follows in the footsteps of two other women, Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019, who have received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Last year’s laureates were Ben Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond, and Philip H. Dybvig, recognized for their research on banks and financial crises. Notable past recipients of this prestigious award include Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Milton Friedman, and Robert J. Shiller.
The Nobel Economic Sciences Prize, established in 1968 by Sweden’s central bank and known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, complements the annual Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace, which were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who passed away in 1896.