Gender Pay Gap Among Doctors, America's Labor Shortage, 'Hacking Equity': RAND Weekly Recap

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December 17, 2021

This week, we discuss the $2 million pay gap between male and female doctors; what to do about the weird U.S. job market; implementing social and emotional learning programs; assessing the trade-offs of decisions about U.S. military intervention; RAND’s virtual hackathon; and new artwork that illustrates the high prices of prescription drugs in the United States.

Young female surgeon putting on her mask, photo by Anna Bizon/Adobe Stock

Photo by Anna Bizon/Adobe Stock

Women Doctors Earn $2 Million Less Than Men

Over the course of a 40-year career, female physicians earn about 25 percent less than male physicians—a pay gap of more than $2 million. That's according to a new RAND study.

The results show that annual income differences between men and women accelerated during the initial years of practice and never recovered. This suggests that, despite working full time and gaining years of experience later in their careers, women do not “catch up” in terms of income.

What can be done to address this persistent gender gap? Potential policy solutions include increasing pay transparency to help underpaid physicians see what a fair salary should be, improving paid family leave, and offering more flexible scheduling.

Signage for a job fair is seen on 5th Avenue after the release of the jobs report in New York City, September 3, 2021, photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Signage for a job fair is displayed on 5th Avenue in New York City, September 3, 2021

Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The Weird Pandemic Job Market and What to Do About It

Since May, there have been more U.S. job openings than unemployed workers. Some policymakers appear to believe that this labor shortage will resolve if workers start to feel a financial pinch. But as RAND economist Kathryn Edwards writes in the Wall Street Journal, “squeezing people financially until they are compelled to take a job” is not the way forward. Instead, she says, policymakers should be asking: What can be done to make work more compelling?

Students wear masks during class to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at Santa Fe South High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, September 1, 2021, photo by Nick Oxford/Reuters

Students at Santa Fe South High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, September 1, 2021

Photo by Nick Oxford/Reuters

Social and Emotional Learning Is the Cornerstone

Social and emotional learning (SEL) can support student development and help prepare kids for college and career success. But many high schools have yet to integrate SEL into academic instruction. A new RAND report shows what schoolwide, integrated, explicit SEL programs look like at two small U.S. high schools. The findings may be valuable for other education leaders across the country.

Members of the Iowa National Guard load vehicles during railhead operations at Camp Shelby, Miss., photo by Sean Taylor/U.S. Army

Members of the Iowa National Guard load vehicles during railhead operations at Camp Shelby, Mississippi

Photo by Sean Taylor/U.S. Army

Assessing Trade-Offs in U.S. Military Intervention Decisions

Military interventions can advance U.S. interests, but they can also be costly and counterproductive if used in the wrong circumstances. In a new report, RAND researchers examine past U.S. military interventions to uncover lessons to help guide policymakers in the future. In the past, forgoing intervention favored U.S. interests more often than not.

The words Hacking Equity on a black background with abstract lines and squares, image by Peter Soriano/RAND Corporation

For three weeks in October and November, students from Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College participated in a virtual hackathon hosted by RAND

Image by Pete Soriano/RAND Corporation

Hackathon Introduces Undergraduates to Public Policy Research

Students from three historically Black colleges and universities recently teamed up with Pardee RAND doctoral students for a virtual hackathon hosted by RAND. The challenge: envision policies to help produce a more equitable pandemic recovery. Judges chose two winning teams, but all participants gained valuable knowledge about using data to inform policy—especially through a social justice lens.

Photographic data visualization by Gabrielle Mérite representing the prices of brand-name drugs with real money on a blue background. For the same pill, the U.S cost is $10 while Germany and Canada’s cost would be $3.50, Japan's $3.25, the UK's $3.00 and Mexico's $2.75.

A brand-name pill that costs $10 in the United States would be about $3.50 in Germany and Canada, $3.25 in Japan, $3.00 in the UK, and $2.75 in Mexico

Design by Gabrielle Mérite

How Much Does a Brand-Name Prescription Drug Cost?

RAND's new artist-in-residence is Gabrielle Mérite, a former science journalist turned data illustrator. Her first piece for the RAND Art + Data project is inspired by a RAND study that compared prescription drug prices internationally. The researchers found that U.S. brand-name prescription drug prices are 3.44 times those in 32 other high-income countries. Mérite created stop-motion animation that illustrates this dramatic difference.

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