Newsdeck

Nobel prize

Gender gap economist Claudia Goldin wins Nobel prize

Gender gap economist Claudia Goldin wins Nobel prize
(L-R) Chairman Royal Academy of Sciences Jakob Svensson, Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Hans Ellegren and member of the committee for the prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel Randi Hjalmarsson announce the winner of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, 09 October 2023. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023 was awarded to Claudia Goldin 'for having advanced our understanding of women’s labor market outcomes', the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced. EPA-EFE/CLAUDIO BRESCIANI SWEDEN

STOCKHOLM, Oct 9 (Reuters) - American economic historian Claudia Goldin won the 2023 Nobel economics prize for her work examining wage inequality between men and women, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Monday.

The prestigious award, formally known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, is the last of this year’s crop of Nobel prizes and is worth 11 million Swedish crowns, or nearly $1 million.

“This year’s Laureate in the Economic Sciences, Claudia Goldin, provided the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labour market participation through the centuries,” the prize-giving body said in a statement.

“Her research reveals the causes of change, as well as the main sources of the remaining gender gap.”

The award for economics is the final instalment of this year’s crop of Nobels that have seen prizes go to COVID-19 vaccine discoveriesatomic snapshots and “quantum dots” as well as to a Norwegian dramatist and an Iranian activist.

Goldin, who in 1990 became the first woman to be tenured at the Harvard economics department, is only the third woman to win the Nobel economics prize.

“She was surprised and very, very happy,” said Hans Ellegren, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Goldin’s 1990 book “Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women” was a hugely influential examination of the roots of wage inequality.

She has followed up with studies on the impact of the contraceptive pill on women’s career and marriage decisions, women’s surnames after marriage as a social indicator and the reasons why women are now the majority of undergraduates.

“Claudia Goldin’s discoveries have vast societal implications,” said Randi Hjalmarsson, member of the Economic Prize committee. “By finally understanding the problem and calling it by the right name, we will be able to pave a better route forward.”

 

“BOTH LOSE”

While it is illegal across much of the world for employers to discriminate based on gender, women still face significant shortfalls in pay compared to men.

In the United States, women last year earned on average 82% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. In Europe, meanwhile, women earned 13% on average less per hour than men in 2021, according to European Commission data.

Goldin’s work revealed that while there has been progress in narrowing the gap over past decades, there is little evidence of it fully closing any time soon.

She has attributed the gap to factors ranging from outright discrimination to phenomena such as “greedy work”, a term she coined for jobs that pay disproportionately more per hour when someone works longer or has less control over those hours – effectively penalising women who need to seek flexible labour.

“The important point is that both lose,” she told the Social Science Bites blog last year. “Men forgo time with their family and women often forgo their career.”

The economics award is not one of the original prizes for science, literature and peace created in the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel, but a later addition established and funded by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.

The first economics prize was awarded the following year and past winners include a host of influential thinkers and academics such Friedrich August von Hayek, Milton Friedman and, more recently, U.S. economist Paul Krugman.

Last year, a trio of U.S. economists including former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke won for their research on how regulating banks and propping up failing lenders with public cash can stave off an even deeper economic crisis, like the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As with the other Nobel prizes, the vast majority of the economics awards have gone to men. Only two women have previously landed one – Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo a decade later.

By Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander

(Reporting by Simon Johnson, Mark John, Niklas Pollard and Johan Ahlander, Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik, Editing by Catherine Evans)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.