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The Health Workforce of the Russian Federation in the Context Of the International Trends


  • Christopher J. Gerry

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

  • Igor Sheiman

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


Having one of the highest physician-population ratios in the world, Russia – paradoxically – also faces shortages of physicians. This paper explores the reasons for this paradox through examining the structural characteristics of the Russian health workforce and its development. In comparing Russia with mainstream European countries and in particular the ‘new” EU countries we argue that the shortage of physicians is determined mostly by the prevailing model of health workforce development with its enduring emphasis on quantitative rather than structural indicators. First, the traditional perception of physicians as inexpensive health resources determines the long-term growth of their jobs – irrespective of the new opportunities for substitution and other structural innovations. Second, there is a persistent distortion in the composition of physician supply, of which the most important is the very low share and narrow remit of primary health care providers in comparison to European standards. Third, the international trends in the division of labor between physicians, medical nurses and allied health personnel are not followed in Russia with the result of an inevitable overburden of physicians, the reproduction of a large supply of physicians, while also the paradoxical shortage. Fourth, the system of professional development of physicians does not match international standards. Although with a substantial delay, Russia has now started transition to a workforce model focused on structural characteristics of human resources and so, in the final part of the paper, these new initiatives of the Government are critically assessed.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher J. Gerry & Igor Sheiman, 2016. "The Health Workforce of the Russian Federation in the Context Of the International Trends," HSE Working papers WP BRP 01/PSP/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:01/psp/2016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anand, Sudhir & Bärnighausen, Till, 2012. "Health workers at the core of the health system: Framework and research issues," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 185-191.
    2. Tomoko Ono & Gaetan Lafortune & Michael Schoenstein, 2013. "Health Workforce Planning in OECD Countries: A Review of 26 Projection Models from 18 Countries," OECD Health Working Papers 62, OECD Publishing.
    3. Alan Maynard, 2006. "Medical Workforce Planning: Some Forecasting Challenges," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 39(3), pages 323-329, September.
    4. repec:spr:joptap:v:120:y:2004:i:1:d:10.1023_b:jota.0000012732.62633.59 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Igor Sheiman & Vladimir Shevski, 2017. "Two Models of Primary Health Care Development: Russia vs. Central and Eastern European Countries," HSE Working papers WP BRP 06/PSP/2017, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

    More about this item


    physicians; health workforce; health workforce policy; health care systems; primary care; Russia; health reforms;

    JEL classification:

    • Z - Other Special Topics

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