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BMJ study finds physician pay disparities along gender and race lines

June 06, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Workforce Professional Development & Education 


A new BMJ study shows that white male physicians in the United States earn 35 percent more than their black male counterparts—even after accounting for factors such as medical specialty, experience and hours worked. The study also found that female physicians, regardless of race, are paid significantly lower than their male counterparts.


According to the study, the median annual income of white male doctors between 2010 and 2013 was $253,042, compared with $188,230 for black male doctors. Both groups of men out-earned female doctors of both races, although the pay gap between white and black female physicians was modest and not statistically significant.


During the same period, white female physicians had an adjusted median annual income of $163,234, and black female physicians earned $152,784.


For the BMJ study, researchers used recent data from two nationally representative surveys: the 2000 to 2013 American Community Survey and the 2000 to 2008 Center for Studying Health System Change physician survey.


While the income numbers seem painfully disparate, they are actually similar to what we see in the overall economy, the lead researcher said. The group did not, however, expect to find such stark differences in a relatively homogenous group of highly educated people. And, since health care prices are fairly predictable, the research group actually expected race-based differences to shrink away.


The researchers noted that further study is needed to understand the etiology of these race and gender differences and whether they stem from disparities in job opportunity or other factors.


Click here to read the study.

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