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Open Access Research article

What determines the income gap between French male and female GPs - the role of medical practices

Magali Dumontet12, Marc Le Vaillant1 and Carine Franc1*

Author Affiliations

1 CERMES3, Inserm U988, CNRS, UMR 8211, 7 rue Guy Moquet, 94801, Villejuif Cedex, France

2 Université Paris-Dauphine, Paris, France

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BMC Family Practice 2012, 13:94  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-94

Published: 21 September 2012

Abstract

Background

In many OECD countries, the gender differences in physicians’ pay favour male doctors. Due to the feminisation of the doctor profession, it is essential to measure this income gap in the French context of Fee-for-service payment (FFS) and then to precisely identify its determinants. The objective of this study is to measure and analyse the 2008 income gap between males and females general practitioners (GPs). This paper focuses on the role of gender medical practices differentials among GPs working in private practice in the southwest region of France.

Methods

Using data from 339 private-practice GPs, we measured an average gender income gap of approximately 26% in favour of men. Using the decomposition method, we examined the factors that could explain gender disparities in income.

Results

The analysis showed that 73% of the income gap can be explained by the average differences in doctors’ characteristics; for example, 61% of the gender income gap is explained by the gender differences in workload, i.e., number of consultations and visits, which is on average significantly lower for female GPs than for male GPs. Furthermore, the decomposition method allowed us to highlight the differences in the marginal returns of doctors’ characteristics and variables contributing to income, such as GP workload; we found that female GPs have a higher marginal return in terms of earnings when performing an additional medical service.

Conclusions

The findings of this study help to understand the determinants of the income gap between male and female GPs. Even though workload is clearly an essential determinant of income, FFS does not reduce the gender income gap, and there is an imperfect relationship between the provision of medical services and income. In the context of feminisation, it appears that female GPs receive a lower income but attain higher marginal returns when performing an additional consultation.

Keywords:
Family doctors; General practitioners; Income; Gender differences; Oaxaca-ransom decomposition