Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Where are the doctors?
Here's a curious fact. The UK and US are both countries where doctors get paid very well: UK is (anecdotally) #1 in Europe on this count (or close), and US doctors are certainly far better paid than their European counterparts. Yet the UK and US - and here's curious bit - are not the countries with the most doctors per capita. Germany - to take one example, there are others - has more docs than either the UK or US. The difference is actually quite striking: Germany has 3.4 practicing doctors/1000 people, the UK and US each have 2.4 (numbers from OECD). This is a huge difference of 42%. Absent any fundamental scarcity, a high wage for a given profession should increase the supply of labour and thereby reduce wages. If this is what's happened in Germany, why doesn't it happen in the UK and US? Given the rewards on offer, why don't more people become doctors in these countries?