Claudia Goldin

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Claudia Goldin
2008 Claudia Goldin.jpg
Born (1946-05-14) May 14, 1946 (age 73)
New York City, New York, United States
Nationality American
Institution Harvard University
Field Labor economics
Economic History
Alma mater Cornell University (B.A.)
University of Chicago (M.A., Ph.D.)
Awards IZA Prize in Labor Economics (2016)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Claudia Goldin (born May 14, 1946) is the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and director of the Development of the American Economy program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Goldin was the president of the American Economic Association in 2013–14. In 1990, she became the first woman to be tenured at the Harvard economics department. Her research includes topics such as female labor force, income inequality, education, and the economic gender gap.[1]

Education and work[edit]

Goldin was born in New York City in 1946. She attended the Bronx High School of Science and Cornell University and completed her doctorate in economics at the University of Chicago in 1972.[2]

Goldin is best known for her great work on women in the U.S. economy. Her research interests include economic history, labor economics, gender and economics, and the economics of work, family, and education. Some of her more recent papers include "The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family", which describes and analyses changes in female labor force participation over the past century, "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the Gender Gap in College" (with Lawrence F. Katz and Ilyana Kuziemko), which probes the causes of the upsurge in women’s college attendance, and "A Pollution Theory of Discrimination: Male and Female Occupations and Earnings", which addresses wage differentials between men and women.

In 1990, Goldin became the first tenured woman at Harvard's economics department.[1] She collaborates frequently with Lawrence F. Katz, a fellow economics professor at Harvard, who is a "personal as well as research partner".[3]


“Transitions: Career and Family Life Cycles of the Educational Elite” (2008)[edit]

Goldin co-authored this article with Lawrence F. Katz. Goldin and Katz look into the transition of women getting married and bearing children at an older age, while becoming more educated and entering the workforce. Beginning in the 1970s, a surge of women began pursuing careers and foregoing getting married and having children in their early 20s. The median age at first marriage among college graduate women, which had been stable at about 22.5 years old from the 1950s to the early 1970s (for birth cohorts from the 1930s to about 1950), increased by 2.5 years between 1972 and 1979 (for birth cohorts from about 1950 to 1955). The fraction of women not having a first birth by around 40 years old increased from 20 percent for those graduating in the early 1960s, to 28 percent for those graduating in the 1970s. College graduate women greatly increased their education in professional schools; the fraction female among first-year law and medical school students, for example, was 10 percent in 1970 but rose to 40 percent by 1990. Goldin provides a detailed account of women at Harvard University in the years 1970, 1980, and 1990 within the study. It showed a great increase in the percentage of female students, and a significant decrease in the percentage of female students who were married two years after receiving their degree. Though more female students entered the University, and they did not get married right away, the percentage of the female graduates who work full-time, full year from the 1990 class is 1.7 percent lower than those from 1970.[4]

"The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family" (2006)[edit]

The Quiet Revolution (1970s–present) was preceded by what Goldin labeled as three evolutionary phases: “Independent Female Worker” (late-19th century – 1920s), “Easing the Constraints on Married Women in the Labor Force” (1930s–1950), and “Roots of the Revolution” (1950s–1970s), respectively. In the first phase, the female workers were usually young and single, working in manufacturing or as domestics and laundresses. These women had little learning on the job and the majority of women were not well educated. Moving into the second phase, the labor factor productivity for married women increased by 15.5% because of an increased demand for office workers and the participation of women in the "high school movement". By the third phase, the female labor supply had become more elastic and more responsive to changes in wages. In this period, most women were secondary earners and worked in "pink-collar" jobs as secretaries, teachers, nurses, social workers, and librarians. Even though higher education was possible, most women did not establish careers, and went to college to meet their spouses rather than to further their education. Goldin argues that the transformation in female labor force participation is due to changes in factors such as female horizons, identities, and average marrying age.[5]

In Goldin's article, the term "horizon" refers to how a woman perceives her lifetime labor force involvement at the time of human capital investment, and whether her involvement will be long-term or short-term. Identity refers to the individuality a woman finds in her job, occupation, or career. Lastly, decision-making entails whether a woman makes labor force decisions jointly if she is married or in a long-term relationship, or whether she takes a secondary position where time is allocated by her spouse's labor involvement decisions. What set the "Quiet Revolution" aside from the three evolutionary periods was that the revolution was a change marked from static decision-making to one of dynamic decision making.

According to Goldin, a key cause of the Quiet Revolution was the development of new contraceptive technology, namely the birth control pill. Young women married and had children at a lower rate if the state they lived in had early legal access to it; women could set aside their relationships and pursue a career through higher education. Goldin and Katz noted that the birth control pill was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960 for use by married women. It spread to young, unmarried women in the late 1960s with change in age of majority laws. Thus, they found a difference from the national average for women born 1930–1965 with if they lived in a state with early legal access to the pill. There was a −0.02 difference in marriage age at 23 from the national average of 0.41. There was a −0.07 difference from the national average of having a child by 22. There was a 0.004 difference from the national average of being a professional, and a 0.016 difference from the national average of being a lawyer or doctor. The birth control pill affected marriage, fertility, and career choice.

"Decreasing (and then Increasing) Inequality in America: A Tale of Two Half-Centuries" (2001)[edit]

Goldin co-authored this article with Lawrence F. Katz. In the article, Goldin and Katz divide the 20th century in the United States into two periods. The second half of the 20th century is considered a period of widening inequality, while the first half is a period of narrowing inequality. They examine, among other things, the “Great Compression” of wages in the 1940s and education reforms such as the high school movement in the 1900s.[6]

"The Human Capital Century and American Leadership: Virtues of the Past" (2001)[edit]

In the 20th century human capital investment became generally regarded by industrialized nations as being more important than technology and physical capital investment. This article queries the reasons the United States invested in human capital through post-elementary education to a far greater extent than other wealthy nations at the time.[7]

"The Human Capital Century" examines the ways that post-elementary education in the United States during the 20th century was advanced, and argues that the principal reasons for U.S. education advancement were an ethic of egalitarianism (as opposed to elite educational systems in many European countries) and initial factor endowments which led to liberal education instead of vocational education, a high level of return on post-elementary education, geographic mobility, and a decentralized educational system.

Virtues contributing to the American educational template included public funding, openness, local control, gender neutrality, separation of church and state, and an academic curriculum. The resulting “high school movement” incorporating these virtues produced a larger group of educated workers, enabled social and geographical mobility, and contributed to potential economic growth. In contrast, Europe’s educational template was determined by a centralized government and remained less open in the 1950s, focusing on providing technical training programs in the form of work-study arrangements for older teenagers.

Goldin states that many of the virtues characterizing the American educational system in the earlier part of the twentieth century may now be considered vices of the present. Through the open and forgiving system that once created social and geographic mobility, now appears a lack of strict standards. High enrollment rates for high schools as evidence for America’s open educational system do not necessarily imply high-quality education. Furthermore, through the decentralized system in which local districts that compete for residents participate in educational investments that once fostered growth of schools may now lead to large differences in funding. Finally, the public funding that once allowed anyone to join and everyone to be on equal footing now presents discrepancies due to poor and rich towns.

The Race Between Education and Technology (2008)[edit]

Co-authored with Lawrence F. Katz, Goldin explores the United States' economic slowdown in the late 1970s. They argue that it was rising economic inequality at the end of the 20th century, not slow productivity growth nor economic convergence between nations, that was at the root of the United States' economic trouble.[8]


Selected works[edit]

  • Goldin, Claudia Dale. Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0-19-505077-6.
  • Goldin, Claudia Dale and Lawrence F. Katz. The Race Between Education and Technology. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-674-02867-8.
  • Glaeser, Edward L. and Claudia Dale Goldin. Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America’s History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-226-29957-0.
  • Bordo, Michael D., Claudia Dale Goldin, and Eugene Nelson White. The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-226-06589-2.
  • Goldin, Claudia Dale and Gary D. Libecap. Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994, ISBN 978-0-226-30110-5.
  • Goldin, Claudia Dale et al. Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992, ISBN 978-0-226-30112-9.


  1. ^ a b Alexander, Sophie M. (April 26, 2007). "Goldin Demystifies Gender Economics". The Harvard Crimson.
  2. ^ Janet Zollinger Giele and Leslie F. Stebbins. Women and Equality In the Workplace: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2003, ISBN 978-1-57607-937-9.
  3. ^ Jonas, Michael (November 3, 2011). "Learning curve". CommonWealth magazine (Fall 2011/American Dream Special Issue). Archived from the original on July 30, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014.
  4. ^ Goldin, Claudia (2008). "Transitions: Career and Family Life Cycles of the Educational Elite" (PDF). Harvard University. American Economic Review.
  5. ^ Claudia Goldin (2006). "The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family". American Economic Review. 96 (2): 1–21. doi:10.1257/000282806777212350.
  6. ^ Welch, Finis, ed. (2001). "Decreasing (and then Increasing) Inequality in America: A Tale of Two Half-Centuries" (PDF). The Causes and Consequences of Increasing Inequality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. pp. 37–82. ISBN 9780226893013.
  7. ^ Claudia Goldin (June 2001). "The Human Capital Century and American Leadership: Virtues of the Past". Journal of Economic History. 61 (2): 263–292. doi:10.1017/S0022050701028017.
  8. ^ a b c Harvard University Press. The Race between Education and Technology, accessed September 6, 2011.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "IZA Prize in Labor Economics". IZA – Institute of Labor Economics. 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  12. ^ "The BBVA Foundation recognizes Claudia Goldin for pioneering analysis of the gender gap". EurekAlert!. 2019-03-26. Retrieved 2019-03-31.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Christopher A. Sims
President of the American Economic Association
2013– 2014
Succeeded by
William Nordhaus