D. Mark Anderson, Ron Diris, Raymond Montizaan, Daniel I. Rees, 28 January 2022

There is evidence that physicians suffer disproportionately from substance use disorders, but no clear understanding of whether the phenomenon is causal. This column uses data from Dutch medical school applicants to examine the effects of becoming a physician on prescription drug use. Leveraging variation from lottery outcomes that determine admission into medical schools, it finds that the choice to become a physician – as opposed to individual-level traits such as personality, intelligence, or perseverance – increases the use of antidepressants, opioids, anxiolytics, and sedatives, especially for women.

Leila Agha, Dan Zeltzer, 25 November 2019

Pharmaceutical companies often market their drugs to highly connected physicians through monetary or in-kind transfers. The column examines how peer influence broadened the influence of the payments for three drugs between 2014 and 2016. Following a large payment, prescriptions for the target drug by the paid physician and the physician's peers increased, with peer spillovers contributing a quarter of the increase.

Michael Callen, Saad Gulzar, Muhammad Yasir Khan, Ali Hasanain, 21 August 2016

Government employee absenteeism is often a serious problem in developing countries. One potential reason is government positions being appointed as a kind of patronage to reward political loyalty. This column presents the results of an intervention designed to address government doctor absenteeism in Punjab, Pakistan. The programme provided government inspectors with a smartphone app to streamline information flows, and improved inspection rates. The results support the political patronage hypothesis and provide encouraging support for data-driven policymaking.

Alvin Roth, 16 October 2012

In this Vox Talk from 2008, Alvin Roth talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about some of the research for which he was recently awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (with Lloyd Shapley). They discuss his work designing markets for kidney exchange, mechanisms for school choice in New York and Boston, and efficient systems for getting doctors and economists into their first jobs. Roth also explains the significance of repugnance as a constraint on markets.


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