The Nobel Prize in Economics announced this Monday for the New Yorker Claudia Goldin, a professor at Harvard since 1989, is full of meaning. She was awarded, according to the jury of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, “for contributing to the improvement of our understanding of the consequences of women in the labor market.” There is still a lot to be done about the “gender gap” in the labor market, but this recognition is another step in terms of gender equality. Goldin never thought of his studies as tools for making public actions, but they served to focus—and how—on labor wage imbalances, the factors that explain them and the obstacles that persist. His scientific contribution has had “enormous social implications” as stated by the Swedish jury.
It is not only important that Goldin win such an important award. That it alone is so amazing, so significant. In my opinion, it is a recognition of the importance of their analysis and, in this troubled world, it is even more visible the importance of the gap and how much more needs to be done. The history of the Nobel Prize in Economics is a good example of the inequality between men and women. Goldin is the third recipient, after Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019, but she is the first alone. Her excellent academic career has already led her to become the first female professor in the Harvard Economics department in 1989, so, not too long ago.
Goldin’s studies cover a wide variety of topics, such as the female workforce, income inequality (gender gap), and the effects of technological change, education, and immigration on all of them. In 2021 she published her famous book “Career & Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey towards Equity”, which offers an excellent overview of how expensive improvements in work matters are for women, with a privileged historical and analytical perspective. One of their most interesting findings is that women’s participation in the labor market has not systematically increased over the past 200 years, as expected with economic growth and development.
In fact, throughout the 19th century this quota decreased as industrialization made it difficult to combine family and work and in the 20th and 21st centuries there was a permanent, albeit slow, increase in the participation of those woman who achieved. Not all was well in the 20th century since, Goldin points out, wage discrimination increased during that time. Likewise, in the case of women, until a few decades ago. Decisions about their higher education have many initial restrictions and this reduces their chances of promotion or income. Finally, the winner found a positive relationship between the introduction of contraceptive methods and the better planning and investment of women in their careers. Undoubtedly, their works are a source of knowledge and social inclusion.