Women in the world of work: Nobel Prize in Economics for Claudia Goldin

US economist Claudia Goldin will be awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her research on the role of women in the labor market.

Women in the world of work: Nobel Prize in Economics for Claudia Goldin

US economist Claudia Goldin will be awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her research on the role of women in the labor market. This was announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

The academy acknowledged that Goldin had uncovered the most important drivers of gender differences in the world of work. Goldin made the first comprehensive contribution to the income and participation of women in the labor market over the centuries, said the chairman of the responsible Nobel committee, Jakob Svensson.

Her research reveals, on the one hand, the causes of change, but on the other hand, also the main causes of the gap between the genders that still remains. “Women are significantly underrepresented in the global labor market and, when they work, earn less than men,” the academy found.

Goldin was born in New York in 1946. She is a professor at the elite Harvard University and only the third woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics. Among the previous 92 prize winners, there were only two other female scientists: Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019. Goldin is the very first woman to be chosen as an individual prize winner in the category: the Nobel Prize in Economics often goes to several economists at the same time, for example who worked in the same field of research. This was also the case with Ostrom and Duflo.

Goldin: “I am a third generation Nobel Prize winner”

The news of her award reached Goldin in the US early in the morning due to the time difference. The 77-year-old said in a first telephone interview that she was woken up by the call in a "pleasant" way, which was published on the official Nobel Prize channel on the online platform X.

The fact that she is only the third woman to be honored and the first sole recipient of the award means a lot, said Goldin. At the same time, the prize means a lot to her because it goes to big ideas and long-term changes and her teachers Robert Fogel (1993) and Gary Becker (1992) have already been honored with it. And not only that: "I am a third-generation Nobel laureate, as Bob Fogel was a student of Simon Kuznets," said Goldin. Kuznets received the prize in 1971.

Praise for Nobel Prize decision

There was a lot of support among experts for Goldin's award. The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, described the election as a "wake-up call for business and society in Germany for more equal opportunities." In hardly any comparable country is the wage gap between men and women, at an average of 18 percent, as large as in Germany, he told the German Press Agency.

"Claudia Goldin's work has significantly expanded our understanding of greater equality in the workplace," said Achim Wambach, President of the Mannheim economic research institute ZEW. Expert Sascha Steffen from the Frankfurt School of Finance

The Green Party's economic policy spokeswoman, Sandra Detzer, noted that Goldin had empirically explained that "the unequal distribution of work in the families of western industrial societies, in which women still spend more time on children and family, leads to unequal pay and status for women in the economy". They demand “a fair distribution of working and care times between women and men”.

Eleven million Swedish krona per price category

The Nobel Prize in Economics is the only Nobel Prize that does not go back to the will of dynamite inventor and prize donor Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). It has been sponsored by the Swedish Reichsbank since the late 1960s and is therefore, strictly speaking, not one of the classic Nobel Prizes. Nevertheless, it will be ceremoniously presented together with the other awards on the anniversary of Nobel's death, December 10th.

The Nobel Prize winners were announced last week in the categories of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. This year, all Nobel Prizes are endowed with eleven million Swedish crowns (around 950,000 euros) per prize category, which is one million more than in previous years.

Last year, former US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and fellow American economists Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. They were honored for their research into banks and financial crises.

The only German Nobel Prize winner in economics to date has been the Bonn scientist Reinhard Selten. He received the award in 1994 together with John Nash and John Harsanyi for their pioneering contributions to non-cooperative game theory.