Does physician gender influence the provision of medical care? An experimental study.
HERO WP 2016/6: Authors: Jing Jing Li and Jian Wang, Shandong University, School of Public Health and Geir Godager, Department of Health Management and Health Economics, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo & Health Services Research Unit, Akershus University Hospital.
The share of female physicians in the medical workforce is increasing in many countries. An important question to consider is whether the changing gender balance in the workforce influences medical practice as a whole. This question, however, relates to whether the observed gender differences in medical practice are a result of male and female physicians having patient groups that differ systematically or whether there is indeed a difference between the providers themselves.
In this paper we ask whether gender differences in provider practice are present when providers face an identical group of patients. We tested the presence of a pure gender effect by means of data from a controlled laboratory experiment. Here every provider encountered an identical patient population. We applied data from an experiment based on the design of Hennig-Schmidt, Selten, and Wiesen (2011). Medical students in the role of physicians chose the quantity of medical services to provide to their abstract patients.
We tested the null hypothesis that gender does not influence the provision of health care services. In our empirical specification we estimated both the influence of gender on the quantity of medical services and whether gender influences the maximization of patient benefits. We found that we cannot reject the null hypothesis that gender does not influence the provision of medical care.
Keywords: Gender, Physician behavior, Medical care provision, Laboratory experiment
JEL classification: C91, I11