Economic historian receives

Nobel Prize in Economics 2023

Harvard professor Claudia Goldin will today be given this year’s Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. That the “Nobel Prize in Economics” is awarded to an economic historian, with a clear emphasis on archival research, is as unusual as it is gratifying.

In her research, Goldin has presented an overall picture of women’s earnings and participation in the labor market through the centuries. She highlights the driving forces behind the changes and points to the main reasons for the differences between the sexes that remain to this day.

In a global perspective, women are severely underrepresented in the labor market, and when women do work, they generally earn less than men. Claudia Goldin has dug deep into the archives to explain how and why differences in wages and employment rates have changed in the United States over the past 200 years.

As Golding shows, women’s participation in the labor market from the beginning of the 19th century until today can be compared to a U-curve. When the transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society began at the beginning of the 19th century, the proportion of married women who worked professionally decreased. Only when the service society emerged at the beginning of the 20th century did the curve turn upwards again. According to Golding, this can be explained by the structural transformations that took place and by the fact that social norms concerning home and children gradually changed. Despite the fact that women in most high-income countries today have a significantly higher level of education than men, large wage differences remain. These income differences arise, she believes, largely in connection with the birth of the first child.

That the “Nobel Prize in Economics” (or more accurately Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) is awarded to an economic historian, with a clear emphasis on archival research, is as unusual as it is gratifying. Claudia Golding’s research is business history at its best – it uses history to explain today’s conditions. She researches historical causes of gender imbalance – she herself is the third woman among 93 prize winners since the economics prize was established in 1969.