”Professor Golding, are you listening to the phone?” Hans Ellegren, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, asked slightly anxiously at the 2023 Nobel Prize in Economics press conference, but the other end of the phone Still silent.
This is a routine part of the Nobel Prize press conference with the winners.
After a long silence, Hans Elgren gave up talking to Claudia Goldin. “There seems to be a problem with the signal connection.” Hans Elgren had just spoken to Claudia Goldin on the phone an hour ago. “At least she was awake.”
“I had been preparing to attend the press conference, but somehow I hung up the phone.” Claudia Goldin explained the incident with a smile during a subsequent phone call with Nobel Prize staff.
On October 9, local time, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that it would award the 2023 Nobel Prize in Economics to American economist Claudia Goldin for her discovery of the key drivers of gender differences in the labor market.
Claudia Goldin is a well-known labor economist who is currently the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and the first tenured professor in the Department of Economics at Harvard University.
Claudia Goldin became the third female winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and the first woman to win the prize alone. The previous two female winners were Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and Esther Duflo in 2019.
According to the Nobel Prize in Economics jury, Claudia Goldin’s research provides the first comprehensive introduction to women’s income and labor market participation over centuries, and reveals the causes of relevant changes in the women’s labor market, as well as the reasons that still exist today. of the gender gap.
Zhao Yaohui, an economics professor at the National School of Development at Peking University who has long been focused on labor economics research, told Caijing that she was very excited when she learned that Claudia Goldin won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
”This shows that the Nobel Committee attaches great importance to women’s labor market issues, and it is also an affirmation of Goldin’s many contributions.” Zhao Yaohui said.
Judging from the research fields of previous winners, the Nobel Prize in Economics covers many fields such as macroeconomics, microeconomics, econometrics, and development economics.
Labor economics has performed well in recent years. Just two years ago, the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to a researcher in labor economics. Half of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economics will be awarded to David Card for his contribution to “Empirical Evidence in Labor Economics”; the other half will be awarded to Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens, for their contributions to “Methodology of Causal Analysis.”
Shi Xinzheng, associate professor at the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, told Caijing that empirical research has gradually become a trend for the Nobel Prize in Economics. For example, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo from MIT and Michael Clay from Harvard University Michael Kremer for his “experimental approach to combating global poverty.” David Card, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economics for “contributions to empirical research in labor economics.”
In contrast, the award committee believed that Goldin’s research “enhanced our understanding of women’s labor market outcomes” (for having advanced our understanding of women’s labor market outcomes).
Lin Lin, a lecturer at the School of Labor and Human Resources of Renmin University of China, said that although the Nobel Prize is paying more and more attention to empirical research, the past Nobel Prize recognition of labor economics focused more on empirical research methods in this field, and Claudia ·Goldin’s research focuses more on the application of economic methods in a certain field to specific problems, so it has very important practical significance.
Focus on gender inequality in the labor market
Currently, there are many differences in the labor market between men and women. Globally, about 50% of women participate in the labor force, compared with 80% of men. In OECD countries, the average income of women is about 13% lower than that of men, and women are less likely to reach the top of the career ladder, hitting the so-called “glass ceiling.”
Claudia Goldin’s research focuses on this. According to the official Nobel Prize website, Claudia Goldin consulted archives and collected more than 200 years of data in the United States, which allowed her to demonstrate how gender differences in income and employment rates have grown and why these differences have changed over time. changes occur.
Randi Hjalmarsson, a member of the Nobel Committee, said at a press conference that Claudia Goldin did not explicitly study policy, she only described the problem of gender inequality in the labor market, “But her research enables policymakers to address this deep-rooted problem.”
Shi Xinzheng said that China is currently facing problems such as declining fertility rate and aging population. These practical problems are all related to the role of women. The significance of Claudia Goldin’s research lies in her placing the issue of gender differences in the context of serious academic research and revealing the reasons behind it.
Bout, a permanent associate professor of the Department of Economics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told Caijing that Claudia Goldin’s research topic can be summarized as gender inequality in the labor market, and this issue is divided into two different levels. . The first level is called unequal gender division of labor, that is, for a long time in human history, women’s labor market participation rate has been lower than men. The second level is the income inequality between men and women in the labor market, that is, the gender gap in income. Bout believes that Goldin’s research has found unprecedented detailed data for these two aspects of inequality, and has made a very in-depth discussion of the causes of these two types of inequality.
Bout believes that from the perspective of Nobel Prize selection, some people think that Goldin’s research is a relatively new field in economics. But in fact, the Nobel Prize in Economics in recent years is relatively more likely to be awarded to relatively emerging fields. For example, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics was jointly awarded to three economists, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, in recognition of their contributions to solving the poverty problem using randomized controlled experiments. Randomized controlled trials are an emerging field in economics.
”From many different perspectives, it would be very logical if we regarded this year’s Nobel Prize as an award given to the field of economic history.” Bout said.
In 1993, the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to Robert Fogel and Douglass North for their innovative use of economic theory and quantitative methods in the study of economic history. After this, the Nobel Prize in Economics was no longer awarded to scholars in the field of economic history.
Lin Lin also believes that Claudia Goldin should be called an economic historian. She uses quantitative historical methods to analyze gender inequality in the labor market, and her perspective is very grand. Claudia Goldin has the insight of a historian. The difference between her and other female labor studies scholars is that she summarizes the laws from a perspective of history and tries to promote gender equality in the future labor market.
The Nobel Prize is paying more and more attention to real-life issues
Claudia Goldin was born in New York, USA, in 1946. She received her PhD in economics from the University of Chicago in 1972. She is currently the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and the first tenured professor in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. From 1989 to 2017, she served as director of the U.S. Economic Development Program at the National Economic Research Institute (NBER), a nonprofit academic institution, where she was also co-director of the NBER’s “Gender Issues in the Economy” group.
In a phone call with Nobel Prize staff, Claudia Goldin described herself as a “detective.” “Being a detective means you have a question that is so important that you will stop at nothing to find it. Detectives always believe there is a way to find the answer. That’s how I’ve always done research,” she said.
The search for answers to the question of gender inequality in the labor market has been a constant throughout Claudia Goldin’s academic career.
Inequalities in the labor market are everywhere for every woman. Claudia Golding writes in her new book, Career or Family? “Women’s Centennial Journey of Pursuing Equality” wrote: “In the past 20 years, the proportion of female PhDs in my field of economics has reached 30%-35%. However, among them, 25% are tenured associate professors and 15% are full professors. In 1974 , I am one of 8% of female assistant professors, and by 2018, the proportion rose to 27%. In 1974, the proportion of women among full professors was less than 3%, and in 2018, it approached 15%. The progress is huge, but Too slow. If male and female candidates were promoted at the same rate, the proportion of women to full professorships should be higher. Part of the reason for this difference is that women’s publication records reduce their promotion rates. Another reason is that , they leave academia before being promoted.”
One of Claudia Goldin’s important research findings is the “U-shaped curve” of female labor market participation. Goldin’s research proves that female labor market participation did not show an upward trend throughout the period, but formed a U-shaped curve. In the early 19th century, with the transition from agricultural to industrial society, married women’s labor market participation declined, but with the development of the service industry in the early 20th century, married women’s participation began to increase. Goldin explains this pattern as the result of structural changes and evolving social norms regarding women’s responsibilities to the family.
Golding emphasized the important role of expectations in women’s choice of employment opportunities. Despite the modernization, economic growth and rising share of female employment in the 20th century, the income gap between women and men has barely narrowed over a long period of time. Goldin believes this is partly because educational decisions that affect lifetime career opportunities are made by women at a relatively young age. If young women’s expectations are formed based on the experiences of previous generations—for example, their mothers did not return to work until their children were grown—women’s career advancement will be very slow based on such expectations. For much of the 20th century, women underestimated how hard they worked; it wasn’t until the 1970s that expectations and results began to converge.
Another important piece of Goldin’s research is the impact of the invention of the contraceptive pill on women’s educational levels and career development. During the 20th century, women’s educational levels continued to improve, and in most high-income countries, women’s educational levels were significantly higher than those of men. By the late 1960s, women’s expectations of the labor market had changed. Goldin found that birth control pills caused women to delay marriage and childbearing, as well as make other career choices. More and more women are studying economics, law and medicine. Golding demonstrates that the pill meant women could better plan for their futures and thus gain a clearer understanding of their expectations, giving them a new impetus for their educational opportunities and career path choices.
Historically, the gender gap in earnings has been largely explained by differences in education and career choices. However, Goldin’s research found that most of this earnings gap now occurs between women in the same occupation, and mostly with the birth of a first child. Women’s earnings immediately drop when they have children, and their earnings do not increase at the same rate as men’s, even if they have the same educational and professional background.
Bout told Caijing that Golding graduated from the University of Chicago’s economics doctoral program in his early years and studied under Robert Fogel, the 1993 Nobel Prize winner in economics. While in school, she was also influenced by another Nobel Prize winner at the University of Chicago, Gary Becker, a leader of the Chicago School. Baker uses economic analysis methods to analyze social problems such as inequality and discrimination. Bout believes that Claudia Goldin’s research used a very long period of historical economic data to empirically test many of Baker’s theoretical models, and at the same time refined many new ideas and perspectives. “Her research has a beauty that is both ancient and modern,” Bout said.
Zhao Huiyao said that Claudia Goldin’s research on the problem is a very long-term and systematic perspective. This also means that the Nobel Prize Committee is paying more and more attention to real-world problems, which reflects the general trend of economics as a whole: the emergence of more data allows people to combine theoretical inferences with practical problems.
Lin Lin believes that Claudia Goldin’s research reflects the humanistic care of the economics discipline, and the Nobel Prize’s recognition of Goldin can encourage economics researchers to focus more on gender equality and other realities. The issue comes up. “This is actually a good trend in the development of economics. Everyone no longer writes models behind closed doors. In the current big data environment, we have more opportunities to obtain data to verify economic models, and it also allows us to make economic models better It can be integrated into real problems and provide better policy suggestions for society.” Lin Lin said.
As of 2023, the Nobel Prize has been awarded 904 times to men, 61 times to women, and 27 times to organizations. In 2023, four women will win the Nobel Prize.