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Low staffing in the maternity ward: Keep calm and call the surgeon

Gabriel Facchini

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2022, vol. 197, issue C, 370-394

Abstract: This paper examines how workload affects the provision of care in a large but understudied segment of the healthcare sector – maternity wards. I use detailed patient-level administrative data on childbirth, and exploit quasi-random assignment of unscheduled patients to different staffing ratios. I find that the probability of C-section increases at a decreasing rate with workload. I show that this result is not attributable to patients’ differential sorting across staffing levels. Instead, I find evidence that C-sections are used to alleviate midwives’ workload -they are faster than vaginal births and performed by physicians. I also exploit patient’s civil status to determine whether the effect varies with patient’s bargaining power -single women are on average more likely to be alone in the delivery room. Consistent with induced demand, only single patients are more likely to receive a C-section when admitted at high workload levels.

Keywords: Cesarean section; Workload; Midwives; Physician induced demand; Bargaining power (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D82 H42 H51 I18 J13 J16 J22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:197:y:2022:i:c:p:370-394

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2022.03.013

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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