Lifetime Earnings and Physicians' Choice of Specialty.
A study to determine whether lifetime earnings in various specialties influence physicians' choice of field. Although income payments to practicing physicians in certain specialties felt to be "shortage" fields may be a politically infeasible policy instrument for influencing specialty choice, increases in residents' salaries could have some appeal for legislators. The effectiveness of both policies is evaluated. Estimates of lifetime earnings differentials between specialties and general practice are presented. The income differentials do not explain why virtually all medical school graduates enter residency programs. However, choices among particular specialties may reflect interspecialty income differences. Regression equations measuring the supply response to income in several specialties are presented. The results indicate that income payments to practicing physicians and stipends to residents would have only a small effect on choice of field. The author suggests other factors that may influence specialty choice: vacancies in a particular specialty, intellectual stimulation, and prestige. 22 pp. Ref.