Rural Physician Shortages and Policy Intervention

44 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019 Last revised: 12 Dec 2019

See all articles by Amrita Kulka

Amrita Kulka

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Dennis McWeeny

Bates White Economic Consulting

Date Written: December 12, 2019


Although fourteen percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, only ten percent of primary care physicians practice medicine there; populations in areas with physician shortages have measurably worse health outcomes. We analyze the effects of incentive programs intended to eliminate physician shortages. Using a differences-in-differences approach, we estimate that student loan forgiveness programs cause an increase of three physicians per rural county. We then estimate a model of physician location decisions and find that physicians are unresponsive to differences in compensation and prefer to live in their home state. Consequently, current programs are too small to eliminate shortages.

Suggested Citation

Kulka, Amrita and McWeeny, Dennis, Rural Physician Shortages and Policy Intervention (December 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Amrita Kulka (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Dennis McWeeny

Bates White Economic Consulting ( email )

2001 K Street NW
North Building, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
United States

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