The Collapse of a Medical Clearinghouse (and Why Such Failures are Rare)
42 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2003 Last revised: 21 Jun 2009
Date Written: February 2003
The collapse of the clearinghouse for the entry-level gastroenterology labor market offers a unique opportunity to study how stable clearinghouses succeed and fail. To explore the reasons for the failure of the clearinghouse (and why failures of this kind of clearinghouse have been so rare), we conduct an experimental investigation of demand shocks of the kind that occurred in the gastroenterology market. We find that a reduction in demand for positions leads to the collapse of the match only when it is detectable by firms before being detected by workers (as in the unexpected shock that took place in 1996, which could be seen by firms in their reduced applicant pools). Simple demand and supply imbalances do not seem to interfere with the operation of the centralized match. Our results suggest an affirmative answer to the question posed by market participants about whether the clearinghouse could be successfully restarted, and that this would relieve some of the distress now reported in that market, by allowing it to operate later, at a more uniform time, and with more national scope.
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