Nobel economics prize goes to Harvard’s Claudia Goldin for research on the workplace gender gap

Claudia Goldin poses for a photographer in her home in Cambridge, Mass. after learning that she received the Nobel Prize in Economics Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. The Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded to Claudia Goldin for her work on the understanding of the gender gap in the labor market, it was announced on Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

STOCKHOLM — Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University professor, was awarded the Nobel economics prize on Monday for research that helps explain why women around the world are less likely than men to work and to earn less money when they do.

Fittingly, the announcement marked a small step toward closing a gender gap among Nobel laureates in economics: Out of 93 economics winners, Goldin is just the third woman to be awarded the prize and the first woman to be the sole winner in any year.


Her award follows Nobel honors this year in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace that were announced last week.

What work won Goldin the Nobel?

Only about half the world’s women have paid jobs, in contrast to 80% of men. Economists regard the gap as a wasted opportunity: Jobs have often failed to go to the most qualified people because women either weren’t competing for work or weren’t being properly considered.

In addition, a persistent pay gap — women in advanced economies earn, on average, about 13% less than men — discourages women from pursuing jobs or continuing their education to qualify for more advanced job opportunities.

Goldin, 77, explored the reasons behind such disparities. Often, she found, they resulted from decisions that women made about their prospects in the job market and about their families’ personal circumstances.

Some women underestimated their employment opportunities. Others felt overwhelmed by responsibilities at home.

“Women are now more educated than men,” Goldin noted in an interview with The Associated Press. “They graduate from college at much higher rates than men. They do better in high school than men do. So why are there these differences?

“And we realize that these differences, although some are found within the labor market, are really reflections of what happens within individuals’ homes, and they’re an interaction between what happens in the home and what happens in the labor market.”

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