Claudia Goldin Receives Nobel Prize for Work on Workplace Gender Inequality

Harvard University professor, Dr. Claudia Goldin, was announced as the 2020 Nobel Economics Prize winner on October 9th in recognition of her groundbreaking research on the global gender wage gap.


Claudia Goldin has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, becoming only the third woman to receive this prestigious honor. The prize, worth 11m Swedish kronor (£819,000), was previously awarded to Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences recognized Goldin’s groundbreaking research on the gender pay gap and her important contributions to understanding the factors driving gender differences in the labor market.

Goldin’s extensive analysis of over 200 years of US data revealed that much of the gender pay gap can be attributed to differences in education and occupation. Her research sheds light on the historical trends and societal implications of gender inequality in the workplace.

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The Chair of the Economic Sciences Committee, Jakob Svensson, emphasized the significance of Goldin’s research in understanding women’s role in the labor market and the importance of addressing barriers for future progress.

Analyzing more than 200 years of US data

Goldin’s meticulous examination of labor market data spanning two centuries involved the compilation of new databases using industrial statistics and historical surveys on time allocation. Her findings revealed a non-linear pattern of women’s participation in paid employment, with important insights into the role of educational choices and their long-term impact on career opportunities.

While Goldin’s research does not directly propose policy conclusions, the Nobel Committee emphasized its significant societal implications and its potential to inform policy-making in countries following similar economic paths.

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Claudia Goldin becomes only the third woman to win the prize.

Goldin’s colleague at Harvard, Jason Furman, described her as a trailblazing scholar who has reshaped our understanding of inequality and women in the labor force. He also commended her mentorship to generations of students.

Claudia Goldin – A trailblazing scholar

Claudia Goldin, born in 1946 in New York, is the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and a co-director of the Gender in the Economy working group at the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States. As the first tenured woman in the Harvard Economics Department, she has authored numerous books and academic papers that delve into the roots of inequality.

Goldin’s groundbreaking 1990 book, Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women, provides a comprehensive examination of wage inequality over the past 250 years and highlights the pivotal role of early educational choices in shaping career trajectories.

The Nobel Prize in Economics, officially known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968 by Sweden’s central bank. Previous laureates include renowned economists Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Paul Krugman, among others. Last year’s prize went to three economists, including former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, for their research on financial regulation and preventing a severe economic crisis.

Phuong Nguyen