Does it make any sense for women to go to medical school?


If we’re talking about financial sense — maybe not. Most female doctors don’t recoup the significant upfront cost of their education:

Recent literature has documented that women earn significantly lower returns than men to investing in professional degrees. However, these papers have not addressed the question of whether this gap is large enough to render professional degrees poor financial investments for women. To study this, we examine whether becoming a physician is a positive net-present-value investment for women. We sidestep some selection issues associated with measuring the returns to education by comparing physicians to physician assistants, a similar profession with lower wages but much lower up-front training costs. We find that the median female (but not male) primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant. This result is partially due to a gender-wage gap in medicine. However, it is mostly driven by the fact that the median female physician simply doesn’t work enough hours to amortize her upfront investment in medical school. In contrast, the median male physician work many more hours, easily enough to amortize his up-front investment. We discuss the robustness of our results to other medical specialties and their relevance to gender-wage gaps more broadly. We discuss other sources of returns to education that rationalize these investments by women.

Source: “Are Women Overinvesting in Education? Evidence from the Medical Profession” from Journal of Human Capital

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