The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Economics, Finance and Management goes, in this eleventh edition, to Claudia Goldin, for her groundbreaking contributions to the historical analysis of the role of women in the economy, and for her analysis of the reasons behind gender inequality.
In her seminal book Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women, Goldin combined new historical data work with insights from economic theory to study the determinants of female labor force participation and wages, and trace out the economic history of American women. She showed that better education and the emergence of the service sector, where women had a comparative advantage, were key factors in fostering the work of women outside the home. Goldin also contrasted the incentive mechanisms in the expanding clerical sector (promotions and job ladders) to those in the manufacturing sector at the turn of the 20th century (piece pay rate schemes), and showed how the origins of wage discrimination can be traced back to these differences in incentives.
In her influential article “Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of Blind Auditions on the Sex Composition of Orchestras” (with Cecilia Rouse), Goldin demonstrated that the share of women musicians that were hired increased after the introduction of blind auditions. In another insightful article, “The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions” (with Lawrence Katz), she showed how the birth control pill dramatically changed women’s education, career, and marriage decisions, such that those entering college after the birth control pill became available increasingly chose professional programs and delayed marriage.