The gender earnings gap in medicine: Evidence from Canada

Health Policy. 2022 Oct;126(10):1002-1009. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2022.08.007. Epub 2022 Aug 17.


Despite the gender gap in physician earnings being of concern to many in Canada, its existence is far from universally accepted and there are no studies covering all physicians/regions or addressing earnings rather than billings. This may explain the lack of serious consideration or remedial action by medical associations and governments in negotiations, or tariff and compensation processes. Our study employs 2016 Canadian Census data linked to Canada Revenue Agency taxation records. Rather than focusing on gross billings, we model physician net earnings (after overhead expenses and controlling for hours/weeks of work) including dividends from corporations. Using OLS, and unconditional quantile regression to document the gap across the earnings distribution, we observe that Canadian female physicians, on average, earn 9.3% less than their male counterparts. The average adjusted gap is slightly smaller for family physicians (8.5%) than other specialists (10.2%). Beyond averages, at the top of the income distribution the gap is double that at the median for both family physicians and other specialists. The gap also varies across provinces, from 6.6% in Quebec to 19.8% in Manitoba. Although our results yield somewhat smaller estimates than those from studies using billings/self-reported income, the magnitudes remain appreciable. The findings substantiate the claim that the gender pay gap in Canadian medicine is pervasive.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Physicians, Family