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The Utility-Maximizing Self-Employed Physician


  • James Thornton
  • B. Kelly Eakin


We estimate a model of utility-maximizing physician behavior. Our model accounts for the interdependence of physician input, output, and work/leisure choices, and includes an endogenous virtual wage for physician own time in the medical practice. We find that solo practitioners respond to increases in marginal hourly earnings and nonpractice income by allocating less time to medical practice activities. Our results also suggest that fee reductions induce the substitution of physician own time for auxiliaries, and the net effect of this adjustment is reduced patient loads and a decrease in supply from the existing stock of solo practitioners.

Suggested Citation

  • James Thornton & B. Kelly Eakin, 1997. "The Utility-Maximizing Self-Employed Physician," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(1), pages 98-128.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:32:y:1997:i:1:p:98-128

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas F. Crossley & Jeremiah Hurley & Sung-Hee Jeon, 2009. "Physician labour supply in Canada: a cohort analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(4), pages 437-456.
    2. Rudoler, David & Laporte, Audrey & Barnsley, Janet & Glazier, Richard H. & Deber, Raisa B., 2015. "Paying for primary care: A cross-sectional analysis of cost and morbidity distributions across primary care payment models in Ontario Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 18-28.
    3. Broadway, Barbara & Kalb, Guyonne & Li, Jinhu & Scott, Anthony, 2016. "Do Financial Incentives Influence GPs' Decisions to Do After-Hours Work? A Discrete Choice Labour Supply Model," IZA Discussion Papers 9910, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Riise, Julie & Hole, Arne Risa & Gyrd-Hansen, Dorte & Skåtun, Diane, 2016. "GPs' implicit prioritization through clinical choices – evidence from three national health services," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 169-183.
    5. Katherine Cuff & Jeremiath Hurley & Stuart Mestelman & Andrew Muller & Robert Nuscheler, 2007. "Public and Private Health Care Financing with Alternate Public Rationing," Department of Economics Working Papers 2007-07, McMaster University.
    6. McPake, Barbara & Russo, Giuliano & Tseng, Fu-Min, 2014. "How do dual practitioners divide their time? The cases of three African capital cities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 113-121.
    7. Calub, Renz Adrian, 2014. "Physician quality and payment schemes: A theoretical and empirical analysis," MPRA Paper 66038, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Chunzhou Mu & Shiko Maruyama, 2013. "Salient Gender Difference in the Wage Elasticity of General Practitioners' Labour Supply," Discussion Papers 2013-16, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    9. Theodore Stefos & James Burgess & Jeffrey Cohen & Laura Lehner & Eileen Moran, 2012. "Dynamics of the mental health workforce: investigating the composition of physicians and other health providers," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 373-384, December.
    10. Isabelle Clerc & Olivier L’Haridon & Alain Paraponaris & Camelia Protopopescu & Bruno Ventelou, 2012. "Fee-for-service payments and consultation length in general practice: a work--leisure trade-off model for French GPs," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(25), pages 3323-3337, September.
    11. Choné, P. & Coudin, É. & Pla, A., 2014. "Are physician fees responsive to competition?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 14/20, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    12. Thornton, James, 1997. "Are malpractice insurance premiums a tort signal that influence physician hours worked?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 403-407, September.
    13. David Rudoler & Raisa Deber & Janet Barnsley & Richard H. Glazier & Adrian Rohit Dass & Audrey Laporte, 2015. "Paying for Primary Care: The Factors Associated with Physician Self‐selection into Payment Models," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(9), pages 1229-1242, September.
    14. Sung-Hee Jeon & Jeremiah Hurley, 2010. "Physician Resource Planning in Canada: The Need for a Stronger Behavioural Foundation," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 36(3), pages 359-375, September.
    15. James F. Burgess, 2012. "Productivity Analysis in Health Care," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Second Edition, chapter 34 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Jayanta Bhattacharya, 2005. "Specialty Selection and Lifetime Returns to Specialization Within Medicine," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    17. Qin, Xuezheng & Li, Lixing & Hsieh, Chee-Ruey, 2013. "Too few doctors or too low wages? Labor supply of health care professionals in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 150-164.
    18. Sung-Hee Jeon & Jeremiah Hurley, 2007. "The Relationship Between Physician Hours of Work, Service Volume and Service Intensity," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 33(s1), pages 17-30, January.

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