Claudia Goldin’s Nobel-winning research shows ‘why women won’ | ET REALITY


Claudia Goldin, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics on Monday, has documented the journey of American women from, in her words, having a job to pursuing a career, working not just to support themselves, but because work is a fundamental aspect of their identity and satisfaction.

She has described the changing roles of women over the past half century as “one of the biggest advances in society and the economy.” She has shown how they have surpassed men in education, they entered the workforce and found meaning in their work.

However, their research shows that women still lag behind men in several ways: in their pay, their participation in the workforce, and the proportion of those who reach the top of the professions.

That’s not his fault, as his recent work demonstrates. It’s because of the way the job is structured. American jobs disproportionately reward long hours. The most evident gender gaps would decrease, she has arguedif employees had more control over where and when they do their work.

Women’s work did not receive full credit in historical sources, the Nobel committee notedand she used historic information to describe it. Her research analyzes cohorts of women born around the same time to show changing patterns and the social forces that affected them.

Women “give rise to modern labor economics,” Professor Goldin, who teaches at Harvard, has written, because economists study variations in behavior. “Women provided much of that,” she wrote. “Men, in general, were not as interesting since their participation and schedules varied much less.”

In 19th-century public records, married women’s occupation was often listed as “wife.” She discovered other data sources to show that they were, in fact, often working in farming and other family businesses.

However, industrialization made married women less likely to work (although single women commonly worked in factories). She posited that, unlike farming, manufacturing work was more difficult to do from home, foreshadowing the struggles mothers face balancing work and family life. today.

In the first half of the 20th century, social changes made it possible for more women to work. These changes included rising high school graduation rates, technological advances that made household chores less demanding, and the growth of white-collar jobs.

In 1970 an important change occurred, the beginning of what Professor Goldin calls “the silent revolution.” There was a marked turning point in women’s likelihood of working, their attachment to their careers, and their ability to make joint decisions with their spouses.

But there was a generation of women caught in the lurch: those who were young in the 1940s, whose expectations for their future did not align with their opportunities. They saw their mothers as housewives or limited to jobs as teachers or nurses, and largely did not plan their own careers.

“They were in for a big surprise,” wrote Professor Goldin. When job opportunities opened up, they often felt trapped, without the education or training to take advantage of them.

Starting with those born in the late 1940s, girls were better prepared. “These young women began to perceive that their adult lives would differ substantially from those of their mothers’ generation,” she wrote.

Adolescent girls began to express high professional aspirations. Large numbers of young women began to obtain professional degrees. They delayed marriage and children. When they started families, they continued working.

In a working paper published the day he won the Nobel This week, titled “Why Women Won,” Professor Goldin noted that the period between 1963 and 1973 was crucial. It included the passage of the Equal Pay Act, the Roe v. Wade and the admission of women to many Ivy League schools.

Women began to marry later, keeping their birth names and get divorced more often. The contraceptive pill, approved in 1960 and widely available to single women around 1970, allowed them to delay childbirth and gain greater education, Professor Goldin said. shown on a paper with Lawrence Katz, another Harvard labor economist (and her husband).

Increasingly, women’s occupations began to “define one’s fundamental identity and social value,” she wrote.

Today, it has shown, women are more likely than those in previous generations to work throughout their lives. Despite fears early in the pandemic that school closures would force women out of the workforce and erase decades of progress, women have largely continued to work. Increasingly they do so after retirement age, often not out of financial need but because they have invested in their careers and still enjoy them.

Professor Goldin, the first single woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, is an example: she received her doctorate in 1972 and is still working at 77 years old.

However, just as women who were children in the 1940s underestimated their career potential, today’s cohort of working-age women may have overestimated it.

The careers and salaries of men and women are basically the same when start to work, but they change when the children arrive. Your investigation shows a small drop in the proportion of women working between 30 and 40 years old. Mothers are less likely than before to quit smoking after having their first baby, but slightly more likely to do so temporarily later, after they “try everything they can” not to, she said.

She has explained a driving force behind the gender inequality that persists in the American workforce: Employers have begun paying disproportionately more for long, inflexible hours. Anyone who downsizes for a while, or is unavailable on weekends or evenings, is at a disadvantage.

As a result, it makes economic sense. In highly educated couples, one parent, usually the father, is on call at work, while the mother is on call at home. Women don’t stop working because they have rich husbands, she said. They have rich husbands because they stop working.

It has refuted the conventional wisdom that women are paid less because they choose lower-paying careers, by showing that the pay gap is largest within occupations, and largest in those that earn more, such as medicine and law. If equally productive workers were paid the same hourly rate, wage differences would disappear.

Closing these remaining gender gaps would require flexibility in where and when work is done, their research explains. She has said in the past that such a change would require a fundamental restructuring of the American workplace, “tearing it all down.” But more recently, she has expressed hope that the pandemic has made that reality more feasible for white-collar workers.

“I guess I’m always optimistic that this will lead to reasonably good things,” he said.

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