Claudia Goldin delivering her speech at the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.

Claudia Goldin delivering her speech of thanks after receiving her Nobel Prize at the Stockholm Concert Hall.

Photo by Clément Morin © Nobel Prize Outreach

Campus & Community

Nobel winner sees an unfinished quiet revolution

2 min read

Claudia Goldin says women have new professional power, but it’s often undercut by unequal ‘hidden work’

Claudia Goldin had some liberating words as she officially received the 2023 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences over the weekend:

“Women are now at the center of the world’s economies.”

That’s not only because they work outside the home more than ever before, said Goldin, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics, but also because, “Women are also at the center of the world’s economies because they are the vast majority of college students in every OECD nation. They are also at the center because of the hidden care work they do all the world over. And also because they largely determine the birthrate.”

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented Goldin’s Nobel on Sunday in a time-honored ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall. Tradition dictates that every Nobel laureate also give a public lecture. Goldin, who accepted the award with a bow, delivered hers Friday at Stockholm University.

Goldin began by heralding women’s power in the 21st-century marketplace. Her presentation charted women’s U-shaped workforce participation as a nation’s economy develops, the 20th century’s “quiet revolution” of women seeking meaningful careers, the “critical innovation” of oral contraception, and the ongoing interplay between birth rates and the division of domestic labor.

Also covered were Goldin’s investigations into the causes of the gender pay gap past and present. That includes the current labor market phenomenon of “greedy work,” first outlined in her 2021 book “Career and Family,” which entices heterosexual couples to adopt not gender equity, but higher total household earnings.

“For many highly educated couples with children, she’s a professional who is also on call at home and he’s a professional who is on call at the office,” Goldin said. “In consequence, he earns more than she does.”

Goldin ended with a call for changes in the workplace and in the home.

“The last mile, the last chapter, the final act in the gender gap saga cannot be written until couples share more, and until the world of work makes that a less costly thing to do.”

To view the video of Goldin’s lecture.