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Bargaining Over Labor: Do Patients have any Power?

  • Joshua S. Gans
  • Andrew Leigh

Using data on births from Australia, we estimate the level of patient bargaining power in negotiations over birth timing. In doing so, we exploit the fact that parents do not like to have children born on the “inauspicious” dates of February 29 and April 1. We show that, in general, the birth rate is lower on these dates, and argue that this reflects parent preferences. When these inauspicious dates abut a weekend, this creates a potential conflict between avoiding the inauspicious date, and avoiding the weekend. We find that in approximately three-quarters of cases, this conflict is resolved in favor of the physician. This suggests that while doctors have more power than patients, patients are sometimes able to influence medical decisions for non-medical reasons.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 528.

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Date of creation: Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:528
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  1. Joshua S. Gans & Andrew Leigh & Elena Varganova, 2007. "Minding the Shop: The Case of Obstetrics Conferences," CEPR Discussion Papers 551, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  2. Joshua S. Gans & Andrew Leigh, 2006. "Born on the First of July: An (Un)natural Experiment in Birth Timing," CEPR Discussion Papers 529, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  3. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  4. Brown, H. III, 1996. "Physician demand for leisure: implications for cesarean section rates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 233-242, April.
  5. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
  6. Michael Neugart & Henry Ohlsson, 2013. "Economic incentives and the timing of births: evidence from the German parental benefit reform of 2007," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 87-108, January.
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