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Professional norms and physician behavior: Homo oeconomicus or homo hippocraticus?

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  • Kesternich, Iris
  • Schumacher, Heiner
  • Winter, Joachim

Abstract

Physicians' treatment decisions determine the level of health care spending to a large extent. The analysis of physician agency describes how doctors trade off their own and their patients' benefits, with a third party (such as the collective of insured individuals or the taxpayers) bearing the costs. Professional norms are viewed as restraining physicians' self-interest and as introducing altruism towards the patient. We present a controlled experiment that analyzes the impact of professional norms on prospective physicians' trade-offs between their own profits, the patients' benefits, and the payers' expenses for medical care. Our data support the notion that professional norms derived from the Hippocratic tradition shift weight to the patient in physicians' decisions while decreasing their self-interest and efficiency concerns.

Suggested Citation

  • Kesternich, Iris & Schumacher, Heiner & Winter, Joachim, 2015. "Professional norms and physician behavior: Homo oeconomicus or homo hippocraticus?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 1-11.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:131:y:2015:i:c:p:1-11
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.08.009
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social preferences; Allocation of medical resources; Professional norms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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