Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications

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    Getting Doctors into the Bush: General Practitioners' Preferences for Rural Location
    Scott, A ; Witt, J ; Humphreys, J ; Joyce, C ; Kalb, GR ; Jeon, S ; McGrail, M (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2012)
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    Getting doctors into the bush: General Practitioners' preferences for rural location
    Scott, A ; Witt, J ; Humphreys, J ; Joyce, C ; Kalb, G ; Jeon, S-H ; McGrail, M (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2013-11-01)
    A key policy issue in many countries is the maldistribution of doctors across geographic areas, which has important effects on equity of access and health care costs. Many government programs and incentive schemes have been established to encourage doctors to practise in rural areas. However, there is little robust evidence of the effectiveness of such incentive schemes. The aim of this study is to examine the preferences of general practitioners (GPs) for rural location using a discrete choice experiment. This is used to estimate the probabilities of moving to a rural area, and the size of financial incentives GPs would require to move there. GPs were asked to choose between two job options or to stay at their current job as part of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) longitudinal survey of doctors. 3727 GPs completed the experiment. Sixty five per cent of GPs chose to stay where they were in all choices presented to them. Moving to an inland town with less than 5000 population and reasonable levels of other job characteristics would require incentives equivalent to 64% of current average annual personal earnings ($116,000). Moving to a town with a population between 5000 and 20,000 people would require incentives of at least 37% of current annual earnings, around $68,000. The size of incentives depends not only on the area but also on the characteristics of the job. The least attractive rural job package would require incentives of at least 130% of annual earnings, around $237,000. It is important to begin to tailor incentive packages to the characteristics of jobs and of rural areas.
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    Cheng, TC ; Scott, A ; Jeon, S-H ; Kalb, G ; Humphreys, J ; Joyce, C (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2012-11-01)
    To date, there has been little data or empirical research on the determinants of doctors' earnings despite earnings having an important role in influencing the cost of health care, decisions on workforce participation and labour supply. This paper examines the determinants of annual earnings of general practitioners (GPs) and specialists using the first wave of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life, a new longitudinal survey of doctors. For both GPs and specialists, earnings are higher for men, for those who are self-employed and for those who do after-hours or on-call work. GPs have higher earnings if they work in larger practices, in outer regional or rural areas, and in areas with lower GP density, whereas specialists earn more if they have more working experience, spend more time in clinical work and have less complex patients. Decomposition analysis shows that the mean earnings of GPs are lower than that of specialists because GPs work fewer hours, are more likely to be female, are less likely to undertake after-hours or on-call work, and have lower returns to experience. Roughly 50% of the income gap between GPs and specialists is explained by differences in unobserved characteristics and returns to those characteristics.