Specialty Selection and Lifetime Returns to Specialization Within Medicine
In 1995, the average American surgeon earned over $269,000 while family practice doctors earned $131,200. Using data from the Survey of Young Physicians and the American Medical Association’s Socio-Economic Monitoring Survey, I find that only half of income differences between generalists and specialists can be explained by hours of work, residency training length, and observed and unobserved ability differences—the three competitive market explanations for differences in doctors’ incomes across specialties. The most likely explanation for the remaining income differences is differential entry barriers across specialties.
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