Last Monday, the Nobel Prize in economics was awarded to Harvard professor Claudia Goldin for her work in researching women’s employment and income in the United States, CNN reported.
In awarding Goldin, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences praised the Harvard professor for uncovering “key drivers of gender differences in the labor market.”
Goldin analyzed over 200 years of US economic data and found that most of the gender pay gap could be explained by differences in occupation and education. At the same time, Goldin’s research shows that the difference in earnings between women and men in the same occupation now stems from the birth of the first child.
Based on her research, Goldin determined that marriage was a much more serious obstacle to women’s earning power than previously believed, according to the Associated Press. She found that at the beginning of the last century, while 20 percent of women held a job, only 5 percent of them were married as laws at the time often prohibited married women from continuing to work.
Once those laws were repealed and after the pill was introduced in the US in 1950, American women began to make long-term plans for education, careers, and marriage. The number of women either working or looking for a job continued to steadily increase from the 1950s until the 1990s when the number plateaued.
According to Jakob Svensson, the chairman of the committee that awards the Nobel in economics, Goldin’s “groundbreaking research” has provided a better understanding of the “underlying factors and barriers” in the gender differences in economics that could be addressed in the future.
Born in New York in 1946, Goldin also serves as the co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Gender in the Economy working group.
The author of several books, Goldin is best known for her research on the history of women in the American economy.
Goldin becomes only the third woman to win a Nobel Prize in economics.