Goldin is a director of the Development of the American Economy Program, and is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is a fellow in the Society of Labor Economists, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Econometric Society.
Goldin serves on the editorial boards of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, The Review of Economics and Statistics and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and is the editor of the NBER Long-term Trends in American Economic History Monograph Series. In 1990–1991 she was the Vice President of the American Economic Association, and in 1999–2000 she was President of the Economic History Association.
Education and work
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 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.
The Quiet Revolution that Transformed Women's Employment, Education, and Family 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 percentage points 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.
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, if 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 to 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 non-married 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 for 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
Goldin co-authored this article with Lawrence Katz, a fellow professor in the Economics Department at Harvard University. 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, as Goldin and Katz demonstrate, 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.
The Human Capital Century and American Leadership: Virtues of the Past
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 U.S. invested in human capital through post-elementary education to a far greater extent than other wealthy nations at the time.
"The Human Capital Century" examines the ways that post-elementary education in the U.S. 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-geared 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
With Lawrence F. Katz, she explores the United States' economic slowdown in the late 1970s. She reasons that it was rising levels of 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.
- 2008 R.R. Hawkins Award, The Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers
- 2009 The Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics
- 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.
- 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.
- Harvard University Press. The Race between Education and Technology, accessed September 6, 2011.
- The Economist as Detective, a brief autobiographical essay by Claudia Goldin. In: M. Szenberg (ed.). Passion and Craft: Economists at Work. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-472-09685-5.
- Academic Papers by Claudia Goldin.
- Interview with Goldin by The Region of the Minneapolis Fed