Gender Homophily in Referral Networks: Consequences for the Medicare Physician Earnings Gap
56 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2017 Last revised: 24 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 21, 2017
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: Suggested Citation