IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Physician shortages in rural Vietnam: Using a labor market approach to inform policy


  • Vujicic, Marko
  • Shengelia, Bakhuti
  • Alfano, Marco
  • Thu, Ha Bui


This paper investigates labor market dynamics for physicians in Vietnam, paying particular attention to geographic distribution and dual job holding. The analysis is based on a survey of a random sample of physicians in 3 regions in 2009–10. We found that the labor market for physicians in Vietnam is characterized by very little movement among both facility levels and geographic areas. Dual practice is also prominent, with over one-third of physicians holding a second job. After taking account of the various sources of income for physicians and controlling for key factors, there is a significant wage premium associated with locating in an urban area. This premium is driven by much higher earnings from dual job holding rather than official earnings in the primary job. There are important policy implications that emerge. With such low job turnover rates, policies to increase the number of physicians in rural areas could focus on initial recruitment. Once in place, physicians tend to remain in their jobs for a very long time. Lastly, findings from an innovative discrete choice experiment suggest that providing long-term education and improving equipment are the most effective instruments to recruit physicians to work in rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Vujicic, Marko & Shengelia, Bakhuti & Alfano, Marco & Thu, Ha Bui, 2011. "Physician shortages in rural Vietnam: Using a labor market approach to inform policy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(7), pages 970-977.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:7:p:970-977 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.010

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Julie Riise Kolstad, 2011. "How to make rural jobs more attractive to health workers. Findings from a discrete choice experiment in Tanzania," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(2), pages 196-211, February.
    2. Regier, Dean A. & Ryan, Mandy & Phimister, Euan & Marra, Carlo A., 2009. "Bayesian and classical estimation of mixed logit: An application to genetic testing," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 598-610, May.
    3. Serneels, Pieter & Montalvo, Jose G. & Pettersson, Gunilla & Lievens, Tomas & Butera, Jean Damascene & Kidanu, Aklilu, 2010. "Who Wants to Work in a Rural Health Post? The Role of Intrinsic Motivation, Rural Background and Faith-Based Institutions in Rwanda and Ethiopia," IZA Discussion Papers 4831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Chomitz, Kenneth M. & Setiadi, Gunawan & Azwar, Azrul & Ismail, Nusye & Widiyarti, 1998. "What do doctors want? developing incentives for doctors to serve in Indonesia's rural and remote areas," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1888, The World Bank.
    5. World Bank, 2010. "Africa Development Indicators 2010 : Silent and Lethal, How Quiet Corruption Undermines Africa's Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2431.
    6. Scott, Anthony, 2001. "Eliciting GPs' preferences for pecuniary and non-pecuniary job characteristics," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 329-347, May.
    7. Louviere, Jordan J. & Lancsar, Emily, 2009. "Choice experiments in health: the good, the bad, the ugly and toward a brighter future," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(04), pages 527-546, October.
    8. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, January.
    9. Christophe Lemiere & Christopher H. Herbst & Negda Jahanshahi & Ellen Smith & Agnes Soucat, 2011. "Reducing Geographical Imbalances of Health Workers in Sub-Saharan Africa : A Labor Market Perspective on What Works, What Does Not, and Why," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 5919.
    10. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Windle, Jill & Rolfe, John, 2013. "Using discrete choice experiments to assess the preferences of new mining workforce to commute or relocate to the Surat Basin in Australia," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 169-180.
    2. Mehdi Ammi & Christine Peyron, 2016. "Heterogeneity in general practitioners’ preferences for quality improvement programs: a choice experiment and policy simulation in France," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-11, December.
    3. Mandeville, Kate L. & Ulaya, Godwin & Lagarde, Mylène & Muula, Adamson S. & Dzowela, Titha & Hanson, Kara, 2016. "The use of specialty training to retain doctors in Malawi: A discrete choice experiment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 109-118.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:7:p:970-977. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.