Using Gini-style indices to evaluate the spatial patterns of health practitioners: theoretical considerations and an application based on Alberta data

Soc Sci Med. 1994 May;38(9):1243-56. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(94)90189-9.


The paper analyzes how Gini-style indices are optimally used in the evaluation of economic spatial models designed to predict where health care practitioners are likely to locate under competitive market conditions. At a conceptual level, the analysis establishes that Gini-style indices can be brought to bear on economic models, only if the ordering of geographic areas required to give Gini-coefficient values internal technical coherence also has meaning in terms of the conceptual predictions of the modelling. This, in turn, implies that Gini-indices are most likely to prove useful for fairly aggregated forms of economic analysis, involving relatively few and large geographic divisions. At an applied level, the analysis establishes that one particular geographic distribution of health practitioners is empirically dominant, and that is the distribution which involves the lowest practitioner:population ratio in rural areas, and the highest ratio in large urban areas, with the ratio for small urban areas in between. The empirical evidence also suggests that the spatial practitioner distributions are highly stable for most kinds of health personnel, making it problematic whether these distributions can be changed through normal types of public policy interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Career Choice
  • Economic Competition*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Forecasting
  • Health Policy
  • Health Workforce / economics*
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Models, Econometric*
  • Professional Practice Location / economics*
  • Professional Practice Location / trends
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population