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Welcome back. As the horrifying events in Israel unfold, Axios' Barack Ravid is covering the news. President Biden will deliver remarks on the Hamas attacks at 1pm.

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1 big thing: A win for the study of women in economics

Harvard economist Claudia Goldin at a press conference Monday after she won the Nobel. Photo: Carlin Stiehl/Getty Images

Harvard economist Claudia Goldin, best known for her work on women in the labor market, was awarded the Nobel in economics yesterday, the first woman to win the prize solo.

Why it matters: This isn't just a win for Goldin, it's a victory for the study of women in economics — a long-overlooked area of research that Goldin legitimized and opened up to a generation of scholars.

  • Goldin's win "lifts up gender studies, lifts up female economists, and lifts up women's lived experiences across the world," Alicia Modestino, who studied under Goldin at Harvard, tells Axios.
  • "It just feels really, really big," says Modestino, who's now an associate professor of economics at Northeastern University, and considers Goldin a mentor. "I can't even tell you how many times I've been moved to tears today."

Catch up fast: Goldin was the first tenured woman economist at Harvard and took on the subject of women in the labor market at a time when much of the field's empirical analysis ignored women entirely.

  • Women were "barely thought of, if at all," says Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan.
  • Plus, where it was standard for men to study men in the labor market — women studying women was seen as work on a "special interest" and a mark of "not being serious," he says.
  • Her work is "foundational," to the study of women in the labor market, says Kate Bahn, an economist and research director of WorkRise at the Urban Institute.

Zoom in: Some of Goldin's most well-known work uses data to explain why women experience work differently than men why they earn less money, or choose different professions or jobs, for example.

  • In one of her most famous papers, Goldin and Cecilia Rouse studied auditions for a symphony orchestra. When a screen was used to keep a musician's identity concealed as they played, women were more likely to be advanced and hired, the paper concluded.
  • It's a paper that tells a story and shows how gender shapes outcomes in the real world, says Bahn.

In another well-known paper, Goldin studied how the birth control pill led women to postpone marriage — and invest more in their careers.

  • The pill was one of the most extraordinary technologies of the second half of the 20th century, says Wolfers, yet it hadn't been the focus of serious economic research. "At the time we knew more about the diffusion of hybrid corn."
  • The fact that other economists didn't pick up on this, he says, "is a marker of the extraordinary black hole, the extraordinary vacuum, left by the absence of women in nearly a generation of economics."

More recently, Goldin was one of the first economists to find that the pandemic didn't hurt women (particularly the college-educated) as much as was feared.

Reality check: Economics is still a field dominated by men and plagued by sexism.

The bottom line: Goldin legitimized the study of women in economics — deepening our understanding of the labor market. The Nobel advances that project.

2. Catch up quick

⛔️ China's largest private developer, Country Garden, says it won't be able to make upcoming bond payments. (FT)

🛢️ Oil prices give back some gains after an initial spike in reaction to Hamas' attack on Israel. (Barron's)

✨ IMF says pace of fragile global economic recovery is slowing. (NYT)

⬇️ Support declines for corporate America's political involvement. (Axios)

3. Restaurant recovery

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The restaurant industry is back — sort of, Emily writes.

Driving the news: Employment levels in food services and bars finally crept past February 2020 levels, according to the latest jobs report.

  • Yes, but: That's below the pre-pandemic trend. Were it not for the pandemic, employment would be more than 1 million higher, explains Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

Zoom in: Prior to 2020, this was an industry growing at an "exceptional" pace, she says. But the disruptions of COVID were monumental.

Be smart: Dining out has changed. The shift to remote work has disrupted dining-out patterns. Lunchtime is different in a lot of downtowns.

  • And other customer habits are shifting — limited service restaurants, think fast-casual, have seen growth. Employment there rose by about 117,000 between February 2020 and August, according to the latest available government data.
  • But full-service restaurants have seen employment fall by 212,000 over the same period.

The bottom line: Given all the disruptions, the industry's recovery is almost "miraculous," Pollak says.

4. Explaining women's comeback

Illustration of woman holding a laptop while walking on tightrope.

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

We've written a few times on women's remarkable return to the labor force post-pandemic — beginning when we covered Goldin's research — and how remote work is at least somewhat responsible for the comeback.

A brief note from economists at the Kansas City Fed offers an additional reason: the record $24 billion in child care funding from the 2021 pandemic recovery bill, Emily writes.

  • The funding went out via subsidies in March 2021, and child care providers used it for staffing and other needs.
  • And by the fall of that year, labor force participation for married and unmarried women with young children started climbing at a faster clip than it did for women without young children, the authors chart.

What's next: That pot of money dried up last month when the U.S. hit the so-called child care cliff. And there are dire predictions of centers closing.

  • The big question now is, will women retreat from the workforce? We don't have the data yet. Stay tuned.

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Today's Axios Markets was edited by Kate Marino and copy edited by Mickey Meece.