Claudia Goldin Wins 2023 Economics Nobel Prize

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences to Claudia Goldin for having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes.

She provided the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labour market participation through the centuries. Her research revealed the causes of change, as well as the main sources of the remaining gender gap.

Goldin found in her research that women are vastly underrepresented in the global labour market and, when they work, they earn less than men.

She collected over 200 years of data from the US, allowing her to demonstrate how and why gender differences in earnings and employment rates have changed over time.

The 2023 laureate was able to show that female participation in the labour market did not have an upward trend over this entire period but instead formed a U-shaped curve.

Historically, much of the gender gap in earnings could be explained by differences in education and occupational choices. However, this year’s economic sciences laureate showed that the bulk of this earnings difference is now between men and women in the same occupation and that it largely arises with the birth of the first child.

She discovered that the participation of married women decreased with the transition from an agrarian to an industrial society in the early nineteenth century, but then started to increase with the growth of the service sector in the early twentieth century.

Goldin explained this pattern as the result of structural change and evolving social norms regarding women’s responsibilities for home and family.

She also demonstrated that access to the contraceptive pill played an important role in accelerating this revolutionary change by offering new opportunities for career planning.

Speaking on the award, Mr Jakob Svensson, Chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences, “Understanding women’s role in the labour is important for society. Thanks to Claudia Goldin’s groundbreaking research we now know much more about the underlying factors and which barriers may need to be addressed in the future.”

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 Nobel prizes and is worth 11 million Swedish crowns (~$1 million).

Business Post had reported that prizes for this year went to COVID-19 vaccine discoveries for medicine and physiology, atomic snapshots (physics) and quantum dots (chemistry) as well as to a Norwegian dramatist (literature) and an imprisoned Iranian activist (peace).

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