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Are Women Overinvesting in Education? Evidence from the Medical Profession

Keith Chen and Judith A. Chevalier

Journal of Human Capital, 2012, vol. 6, issue 2, 124 - 149

Abstract: Recent literature finds that women earn significantly lower returns to professional degrees. Does this render these degrees poor investments for women? We compare physicians to physician assistants, a similar profession with lower wages and training costs, mitigating some selection issues. The median female (but not male) primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant. While there is a wage gap, our result occurs primarily because most female physicians do not work enough hours to rationalize medical school whereas most men do. We discuss robustness issues and nonwage returns to education that may rationalize these investments by women.

Date: 2012
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