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Gender Homophily in Referral Networks: Consequences for the Medicare Physician Earnings Gap

56 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017 Last revised: 24 Feb 2017

Dan Zeltzer

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics

Date Written: February 21, 2017

Abstract

In this paper, I assess the extent to which gender gaps in earnings may be driven by physicians’ preference for working with specialists of the same gender. Analyzing administrative data on 100 million Medicare patient referrals, I provide robust evidence that physicians refer more to others of their same gender (i.e., referrals exhibit gender homophily). I show that homophily in referrals is predominantly driven by physicians’ decisions, rather than by endogenous sorting of physicians or patients. As 75% of referring physicians are men, my estimates suggest that gender homophily in referrals makes, all else being equal, demand for female physicians 5% lower than demand for male physicians, thus contributing to the persistence of gender inequality. Overall, my results point to the positive externality associated with increased female participation in medicine, and perhaps in other contexts where networking is important.

Keywords: Gender, Homophily, Referrals, Physician Markets

JEL Classification: I11, J16, L14

Suggested Citation

Zeltzer, Dan, Gender Homophily in Referral Networks: Consequences for the Medicare Physician Earnings Gap (February 21, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2921482

Dan Zeltzer (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 39040
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel
+972(3)640-5824 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.tau.ac.il/~dzeltzer

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