The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today that Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her work in identifying the drivers of gender differences in the labor market.
Goldin’s “more than 200 years of data collected from the United States allowed her to demonstrate how and why gender differences in earnings and employment rates have changed over time,” reads the press release accompanying the award.
Back home on Monday morning, Goldin described himself as a “third generation” Nobel laureate studying social and economic change.
“Before me, my mentor Bob Fogel won the Nobel Prize, and before him, his mentor Simon Kuznets won the Nobel Prize. All of us work in the fields of long-term change, economic history and work in the field of comparative studies.”
She also emphasized the role of students in her work.
“I’m a professor; I’m a teacher,” she said. “I am here because I have students. My students are my muse; I rely on students to listen to my ideas and respond to them. Everyone should realize that teaching is the handmaiden of research. Research is knowledge creation; Teaching is the transmission of knowledge. We do both.”
Gaudin is the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize alone. Her most influential papers dealt with the history of women’s pursuit of careers and families, coeducation in higher education, the impact of birth control pills on women’s career and marriage decisions, women’s marital surnames as social indicators, and why women are now women . The new life cycle of employment for undergraduates and women. News of her win came on the same day she published a new working paper titled “Why Women Win.”
“Claudia Goldin was a groundbreaking economist,” said Harvard University President Claudine Gay. “She has made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of the gender pay gap and patterns of women’s participation in the labor market, helping to deepen understanding of these issues and making progress possible. The entire Harvard community honors Professor Golding for this Congratulations on the extraordinary achievement.”
Hopi Hoekstra, dean of the Edgerly Family College of Arts and Sciences, echoed Guy’s praise.
“Through Professor Goldin’s groundbreaking and far-reaching research, we are beginning to understand how the demands of balancing career and family are experienced both in individual lives and in the broader context,” Hoekstra said. “With the long-term vision of a historian and the precision of an economist, she reveals the tremendous progress women have made in the workplace over time, and how true equity remains elusive in many ways. I’m fascinated It’s great to see Professor Golding and her work recognized in this way.”
Goldin said that for years, inequalities between opposite-sex couples were blamed on inherent gender differences. Today we learned that the issue has to do with “the way women work and care for those around them,” she said.
“We have reached a stage where women’s employment rates are very high but there are still inequalities, and these inequalities are inequalities that occur within families.”
Goldin, who is also the Lee and Ezpeleta Professor of Arts and Sciences, graduated from Cornell University in 1967 and pursued a doctoral degree at the University of Chicago. She joined Harvard University in 1990, becoming the first tenured woman in the school’s economics department. Her latest book is Careers and Family: Women’s Centennial Journey to Equity, published in 2021.
The award was announced while Goldin was sleeping at home with her husband, Lawrence Katz, the Elizabeth Allison Professor of Economics, and her “furry family member,” Golden Retriever Pickup.
“I think people can find the answer in two ways,” she said. “They’ll find out when they wake up or they’re on a plane. Thank God I’m already in bed.”
She added that her relationship with Katz, with whom she published some of her most important research, has helped her become a better scholar.
“He’s someone I lean on and think with,” she said. “I’ve been really, really lucky because I’ve always had people to talk to.”