New research by University of Adelaide economist Dr Terence Cheng and his collaborators has identified substantial gender differences in earnings in the oldest and most prestigious of professions in Australia: medicine.
The study, published in the international journal Industrial Relations, (and available here), analysed data of over 3,400 Australian general practitioners (GPs) from the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) longitudinal survey.
It finds that female GPs with children earn $110,000-$120,000 per year less than male GPs with children and $40,000-$50,000 less than their female colleagues without children. Lower working hours arising from family responsibilities is the most important factor explaining thsee differences in earnings. Female GPs with children work fewer hours and are less attached to the labour force compared to male GPs and their female colleagues without children.
Tracking GPs over a four-year period, the study also finds evidence pointing to a “breadwinner effect” among males, and a “carer-effect” among females. For male GPs, having two or more children within four years result in 42% higher earnings. For females, having one child and multiple children over a four-year period result in a reduction in earnings by 72% and 100% respectively – the latter suggesting that female GPs with two or more children stop working almost entirely.
The results of this study highlight the importance of flexible medical training programs and working arrangements for women, especially given the increasing proportion females in the medical workforce.
The research is published as: Schurer S, Kuehnle D, Scott A and TC Cheng (2016). “One man’s blessing, another woman’s curse? Family factors and the gender-earnings gap of doctors” Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 55: 385–414. 2016.