Do Higher Salaries Lower Physician Migrations?

Published in: Health Policy and Planning, v. 29, no. 5, Aug. 2014, p. 603-614

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Edward N. Okeke

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It is believed that low wages are an important reason why doctors and nurses in developing countries migrate, and this has led to a call for higher wages for health professionals in developing countries. In this paper, we provide some of the first estimates of the impact of raising health workers salaries on migration. Using aggregate panel data on the stock of foreign doctors in 16 OECD countries, we explore the effect of a wage increase programme in Ghana on physician migration. We find evidence that 6 years after the implementation of this programme, the foreign stock of Ghanaian doctors abroad had fallen by approximately 10% relative to the estimated counterfactual. This result should be interpreted with caution however given the sensitivity of the results to changes in model specification.

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