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Claudia Goldin | Women in Economics

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    When you do economic research,
    you have three pieces.
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    I think of them as balls
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    that I want floating up
    all the time.
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    I'm juggling them,
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    and one of them is the idea.
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    I have to begin with
    "What's the question,
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    what's important?"
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    - [Narrator] Economists!
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    Not a group with a lot
    of Marys, Natashas, or Juanitas,
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    and that's caused
    a lot of controversy.
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    However, what's often overlooked
    are the actual female economists
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    who are economics forward
    by addressing real world issues.
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    Welcome to Women in Economics.
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    - [Ilyana] One thing I definitely
    learned from Claudia
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    is to approach economic
    research like a detective.
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    I think, especially,
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    when you're working
    with economic history,
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    when you can't just download
    a cleaned-up dataset.
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    You really have to go searching
    open, dusty boxes
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    and look under tocks.
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    - [Lawrence] She is the consummate,
    economic historian.
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    She has been the innovator and pioneer
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    on bringing economical logic
    and historical and better data
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    to understanding
    women's role in the economy,
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    and then she is a fantastic
    labor economist,
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    who had been a leader on work on understanding inequality.
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    Claudia Dale Goldin was born in 1946 in the Bronx.
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    She was a problem-solver from the beginning.
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    As a child, she avoided the New York City heat
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    by spending her summer days playing cards
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    or reading in air-conditioned department stores.
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    And while she always knew she wanted to be a scientist of some kind,
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    she wasn't always set on economics.
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    SHe'll tell stories to me about when she first went to the Natural History Museum
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    when she was living in the Bronx
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    and fell in love with mummies
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    and thought that archeology was going to be her passion.
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    But then she discovered microbiology,
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    and she suddently realized that microscopes uncovered a whole new world of discovery for her.
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    It wasn't until she actually went to college at Cornell
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    that she first got introduced to economics.
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    I decidede to become an economist
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    because I took an economics class from an amazing person named Fred Kahn.
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    He was so excited about the field of industrial organization
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    and product markets and regulation
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    that it was infectious.
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    And in fact, when I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago,
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    I went there to study Industrial Organization.
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    Under the mentorship of Bob Fogel,
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    Claudia studied AMerican Economic History,
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    particularly the economics of slavery
    and the post civil war south.
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    SHe had to travel to some southern states to gather archival materials for this research.
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    Goldin didn't approach this trip like a traditional economist.
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    She thought what I should do is hitchhike between the different cities in the south.
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    She met somebody in one of the archives
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    who let her stay at their place,
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    and when she came back, her advisor asked her for a list of the receipts and expenses
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    associated with the trip,
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    she had no clue that you were supposed to actually stay in hotels and pay for actual travel,
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    and you could get reimbursements.
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    By actually staying with the archivists and getting access to archives
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    and knowledge that you wouldn't have had,
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    it probably created [ ] and understanding that wouldn't have been possible
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    if you were going through usual channels.
Claudia Goldin | Women in Economics

This episode of Women in Economics profiles Claudia Goldin, pioneering economic historian, labor economist, and first female economist to be offered tenure at Harvard.

She was drawn to the sciences at a young age but switched to focusing on economics after taking an economics class with Alfred Kahn at Cornell as an undergrad.

Her most well-known research covers the evolution of women’s labor force participation, but her expertise is by no means confined to this topic. She’s also researched extensively on the economics of education, inequality, and automation.

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