Do rural incentives payments affect entries and exits of general practitioners?

Soc Sci Med. 2018 Oct;214:197-205. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.08.014. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Many countries use financial incentive programs to attract physicians to work in rural areas. This paper examines the effectiveness of a policy reform in Australia that made some locations newly eligible for financial incentives and increased incentives for locations already eligible. The analysis uses panel data (2008-2014) on all Australian general practitioners (GPs) aggregated to small areas. We use a difference-in-differences approach to examine if the policy change affected GP entry or exit to the 755 newly eligible locations and the 787 always eligible locations relative to 2249 locations which were never eligible. The policy change increased the entry of newly-qualified GPs to newly eligible locations but had no effect on the entry and exit of other GPs. Our results suggest that location incentives should be targeted at newly qualified GPs.

Keywords: Australia; Entries and exits; GP geographic distribution; GP location choice; GP rural incentives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / psychology*
  • General Practitioners / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Professional Practice Location / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services / economics*