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Barriers to Entering Medical Specialties

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  • Sean Nicholson

Abstract

Non-primary care physicians earn considerably more than primary care physicians in the United States. I examine a number of explanations for the persistent high rates of return to medical specialization and conclude that barriers to entry may be creating an economic shortage of non-primary care physicians. I estimate that medical students would be willing to pay teaching hospitals to obtain residency positions in dermatology, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, and radiology rather than receiving the mean residents' salary of $34,000. In the simulation, the quantity of residents in these four specialties would increase by an estimated six to 30 percent, rates of return would fall substantially, and teaching hospitals would save an estimated $0.6 to $1.0 billion per year in labor costs.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9649.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9649

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  1. Morris M. Kleiner, 2000. "Occupational Licensing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 189-202, Fall.
  2. Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-46, December.
  3. Nicholson, Sean & Song, David, 2001. "The incentive effects of the Medicare indirect medical education policy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 909-933, November.
  4. MaCurdy, Thomas E & Pencavel, John H, 1986. "Testing between Competing Models of Wage and Employment Determination in Unionized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S3-S39, June.
  5. McGuire, Thomas G., 2000. "Physician agency," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 461-536 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite & Larry Samuelson, 2010. "Pricing in Matching Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1752, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Sean Nicholson & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Physician Income Prediction Errors: Sources and Implications for Behavior," NBER Working Papers 8907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite & Larry Samuelson, 2011. "Pricing and Investments in Matching Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000162, David K. Levine.

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