Medical Occupation Preference under the Influence of the COVID-19 Epidemic

20 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2020

See all articles by Edward Cartwright

Edward Cartwright

De Montfort University

Lian Xue

Wuhan University

Lijia Wei

Wuhan University - Economics and Management School

Date Written: October 25, 2020


Background: The study examined the influence of COVID-19 on job satisfaction and occupation preference among medical workers. The outbreak of COVID-19 started from Wuhan served as an exogenous shock on many people's lives, especially those with a career in the medical industry.

Method: We conducted a large scale online survey experiment in China and UK (for robustness check) regarding the influence of the COVID-19 epidemic on medical occupation preference. The experiment in China has a two by two factorial design varying engagement and severity of influence during the epidemic, including the comparison between (1) medical and nonmedical workers; (2) Wuhan and non-Wuhan residents.The survey was conducted during March 2020, a time when the epidemic in Wuhan has passed its peak, which allow us to get more respondents from medical workers.

Findings: We find that people who are medical workers are less willing to accept their children and partners engaging in medical occupations (reverse occupation inheritance); such a tendency is stronger among individuals in Wuhan than in other places in China. Willingness for children/partners to choose medical occupations is significantly influenced by individuals’ direct/indirect experiences during the epidemic, risk-taking preferences, prosocial preferences and information (news) shocks. Moreover, medical workers in Wuhan also exhibit significantly lower pro-social and higher risk averse, as well as significantly differences in future life and economic expectations from other groups.

Interpretation: Our results indicate serious burnout among medical workers who conducted intensive workload under the severe influence of COVID-19 epidemic. The conclusion is based mainly on ex post comparisons and descriptive analysis, nonetheless it showed systematic differences that cannot be explain by other controlling factors expect the epidemic. We hope our results can provide important implications for policy makers in relevant policy makings and resource allocations during and after the epidemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; medical workers; occupational intention; social preference

JEL Classification: I10; I11; C93; J01

Suggested Citation

Cartwright, Edward and Xue, Lian and Wei, Lijia, Medical Occupation Preference under the Influence of the COVID-19 Epidemic (October 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Edward Cartwright

De Montfort University ( email )

The Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH
United Kingdom

Lian Xue

Wuhan University ( email )


Lijia Wei (Contact Author)

Wuhan University - Economics and Management School ( email )


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