The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1157–1179 | Cite as

Gender-specific practice styles and ambulatory health care expenditures

Original Paper


This paper explores the role of physician gender in the expenditures for ambulatory care as a potential source of practice style variation. We exploit a large doctor–patient panel dataset based on insurance-claims data from Switzerland to estimate the effect of physician gender on health care expenditures. We find considerable heterogeneity across specialties. In primary care, female doctors are found to produce similar overall expenditures per visit as their male colleagues, but significantly smaller prescribing costs and significantly higher laboratory costs. In secondary-care specialties, we find that women generate lower overall expenditures, which is mainly driven by consultation costs. These findings provide evidence for the existence of sex-specific practice styles that translate into different overall expenditures as well as different compositions of these expenditures.


Physician gender Health care costs Practice style Health care expenditure Doctor visits 



I am grateful to Michael Gerfin, Stefan Boes, Stefan Lamp, the participants of the Spring Meeting of Young Economists 2015 and research seminar participants for valuable comments and suggestions. I am also indebted to a Swiss health insurance company for providing the data. No third-party funding has been received for this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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