Congratulations to Harvard University Press author Claudia Goldin, who has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. Her groundbreaking work as an economic historian and labor economist has advanced our understanding of inequality and women’s participation in the workforce.
Goldin’s book, The Race Between Education and Technology, co-authored with her husband Lawrence Katz, is an incisive history of American education—its great success in creating prosperity and equality during the 20th century and its relative decline since the 1970s.
Author - Editorial Staff
Date - 25 October 2023
Time to read - 3 min
Goldin is the third woman to receive the economics prize and the only female solo winner since it was first awarded in 1969. She is the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and former director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Development of the American Economy program.
“Claudia Goldin’s pathbreaking research, deeply grounded in history yet hugely relevant to the present, is a model of what social science should be,” says Nobel laureate and New York Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman. “This is truly a Nobel to celebrate.”
Examining Inequality in America
Goldin was honored for providing the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labor market participation through the centuries. Her pioneering research on gender inequality in work and family life shows how women went from being passive actors in the household and labor market to active participants who defined their fundamental identity and societal worth through their careers. As female education rose alongside technological advances such as refrigerators and the birth control pill, American society was profoundly transformed.
The impact of education and technology on economic growth has been a central theme in Goldin’s work. It is the driving force behind the book she wrote with her husband, Lawrence Katz, The Race Between Education and Technology, which the Financial Times calls “A powerful explanation for what has driven changes in income inequality…and solutions for addressing it.”
Goldin and Katz argue that for most of the 20th century, the United States led the world in democratizing education, resulting in unprecedented expansion of the U.S. economy and a more equitable distribution of its rewards. Instead of ending education at age 12 or 13, which was the global norm, the American education system offered huge gains to its people through the spread of high schools that were “free, secular, gender neutral, open, and forgiving,” says Goldin.
The mid-1970s marked a turning point in the United States, as educational stagnation and rising income inequality began to emerge. Goldin and Katz argue that widespread prosperity depends on rising education levels. As technology advances, we need more and better-educated graduates in our workforce. Expanding education’s reach and improving its quality appears to be the most promising investment a society can make.
“Nations can no longer afford to be left behind in educating their people because today’s technologies are produced by well-educated countries and are designed for an educated labor force,” says Goldin.
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