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Claudia Goldin awarded the 2023 Economics Nobel Prize for pay-gap work

Claudia Goldin has achieved the distinction of becoming the third woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in economics, recognizing her pioneering research into the factors that illuminate wage disparities between men and women.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm has declared that Goldin will receive a prestigious award of 11 million krona ($1 million).

Jakob Svensson, the chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences, underscored the societal significance of understanding the roles of women in the labor market. He remarked, “Claudia Goldin’s groundbreaking research has greatly enhanced our understanding of the underlying factors and the barriers that may require future attention.”

Born in New York in 1946, Goldin is a professor at Harvard University who harnessed over two centuries of data to uncover that pay gaps, historically attributed to differences in education and career choices, now predominantly manifest between men and women in the same professions, particularly after the birth of their first child.

Randi Hjalmarsson, an economics professor at the University of Gothenburg, emphasized the global policy implications of Goldin’s work. She likened it to diagnosing an illness before embarking on treatment, explaining, “Goldin has provided the foundational knowledge that carries diverse policy implications across different nations and contexts worldwide.”

Goldin combined innovative economic history methodologies with an economic perspective, demonstrating that historical fluctuations in the supply and demand for female labor have been influenced by factors such as opportunities to balance paid employment with family life, educational choices, technological advancements like the contraceptive pill, legal and societal norms, and transformations in the economy’s structure.

She also unveiled an intriguing historical revelation: prior to the nineteenth-century industrialization, women were more likely to participate in the workforce, partly because industrialization made it increasingly challenging for married women to work from home while juggling work and family responsibilities, unlike life on family farms.

Goldin proposed that the gender wage gap could be diminished by granting employees more flexibility in choosing their working hours, as she articulated in a 2014 address to the American Economic Association. She highlighted that industries with more flexible scheduling, such as healthcare and technology, exhibit narrower wage disparities.

Goldin follows in the footsteps of two other esteemed female laureates, Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019, who were also honored with the Nobel Prize in economic sciences.

In the prior year, the prestigious award recognized Ben Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond, and Philip H. Dybvig for their research on banks and financial crises. The list of past recipients of this prestigious accolade includes distinguished names such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Milton Friedman, and Robert J. Shiller.

The Nobel Prizes, which acknowledge remarkable achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace, were established in accordance with the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who passed away in 1896. The economic sciences award was introduced by Sweden’s central bank in 1968 and is known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

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