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Information and sorting in the market for obstetrical services

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  • Darren Grant

    (University of Texas at Arlington, USA)

Abstract

Using a statistical model and a partial equilibrium economic search model, we develop a methodology for appraising the value of consumer information about the quality of health care providers and apply it to information about physicians' predispositions to perform cesarean section deliveries. There are three primary results. First, information's value is roughly proportional to a simple statistical metric of its accuracy; the constant of proportionality can be imputed from knowledge of consumer search methods and consumer preferences. Second, the function governing the production of information from data 'inputs' can have surprising economic properties, such as economies of scale, that usefully inform the efficient production of consumer information. These properties are robust even when the value of information cannot be precisely determined. Third, information's value is enhanced by the way physicians are sorted into hospitals but greatly attenuated by the presence of other dimensions of physician heterogeneity. Under plausible assumptions, the value of information in our empirical application is small enough that it is not surprising that consumers do not utilize it when selecting a physician. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.968
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2005)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 703-719

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:14:y:2005:i:7:p:703-719

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  2. Martin Gaynor & Solomon Polachek, 1994. "Measuring Ignorance in the Market: A New Method with an Application to Physician Services," NBER Working Papers 3430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Dubay, Lisa & Kaestner, Robert & Waidmann, Timothy, 1999. "The impact of malpractice fears on cesarean section rates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 491-522, August.
  4. Rochaix, Lise, 1989. "Information asymmetry and search in the market for physicians' services," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 53-84, March.
  5. Wolinsky, Asher, 1983. "Prices as Signals of Product Quality," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 647-58, October.
  6. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  7. Dale Tussing, A. & Wojtowycz, Martha A., 1993. "The effect of physician characteristics on clinical behavior: Cesarean section in New York State," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1251-1260, November.
  8. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1989. "Imperfect information in the product market," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 769-847 Elsevier.
  9. Burgess Jr., James F. & Christiansen, Cindy L. & Michalak, Sarah E. & Morris, Carl N., 2000. "Medical profiling: improving standards and risk adjustments using hierarchical models," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 291-309, May.
  10. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
  11. Schwartz, Alan & Wilde, Louis L, 1982. "Imperfect Information, Monopolistic Competition, and Public Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 18-23, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Hyunhoe Bae & Peter Wilcoxen & David Popp, 2008. "Information Disclosure Policy: Do States' Data Processing Efforts Help More than the Information Disclosure Itself?," NBER Working Papers 14409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Grant, Darren, 2007. "Grades as information," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 201-214, April.
  3. Andrew Epstein & Sean Nicholson, 2005. "The Formation and Evolution of Physician Treatment Styles: An Application to Cesarean Sections," NBER Working Papers 11549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hyunhoe Bae, 2012. "Reducing Environmental Risks by Information Disclosure: Evidence in Residential Lead Paint Disclosure Rule," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2), pages 404-431, 03.

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