On the Dynamics of Physician Density; Theory and Empirical Evidence for Switzerland
This paper analyzes the geographical distribution of physicians across the 26 cantons of Switzerland from 1960 to 1998. We use a dynamic location model to explain physicians' choice for their practices by considering market characteristics and medical infrastructure. Our panel data analysis indicates that physicians avoid areas where physician density has reached a certain level. Also, specialists' services may sometimes be substituted for those provided by general practitioners. These results do not support the common reproach that the unequal geographic distribution of physicians necessarily reflects market failure. Finally, as physician densities converge over time, a more equal distribution in the cantons results.
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