Anti-Immigrant Doctors

We analyze both the sources of U.S. states’ licensure requirements for international medical graduates (IMGs), and the effect of these regulations on migrant physicians’ choice of U.S. state in which to work over the period 1973-2010. Analysis of original data shows that states with self-financing state medical licensing boards, which can more easily be captured by incumbent physicians, have more stringent IMG licensure requirements. Additionally, we find that states that require IMGs to complete longer periods of supervised training receive fewer migrants. Our empirical results are robust to controls for states’ physician labor market. This research identifies an overlooked dimension of international economic integration: implicit barriers to the cross-national mobility of human capital, and the public policy implications of such barriers.

Study. HT: Matt Yglesias.

Comments (8)

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  1. Sadat says:

    “This research identifies an overlooked dimension of international economic integration: implicit barriers to the cross-national mobility of human capital, and the public policy implications of such barriers.” One such implication would be that this cuts the supply of potential physicians. Given that we struggle with a chronic shortage of physicians, streamlining & equalizing the process for foreign doctors are crucial towards solving the supply challenge.

  2. Charlie says:

    “Additionally, we find that states that require IMGs to complete longer periods of supervised training receive fewer migrants.”

    - This makes perfect and logical sense.

  3. Sandeep Kumar says:

    I think the local physician groups set up these barriers to protect themselves against competition.

  4. Buster says:

    Most people don’t understand the consequences of occupational licensure. A license is the legal barrier dictating who can perform a service and who cannot. The trouble is: if state law creates a license, guess who gets to staff the state board that regulates the occupation? Answer: people from the industry being regulated.

    In other words, by allowing doctors to staff state medical boards, you get laws that prevent foreign-educated doctors from being able to move her and compete with domestically-trained doctors.

  5. Andrew O says:

    I think it’s a shame there are such measures that make it harder for foreign doctors to even have a realistic chance of practicing medicine here. As a prosperous country, we should be welcoming top-level doctors from foreign countries who are more qualified to contribute to our society and the field of medicine. Healthy competition of this sort would only force doctors here to perform better, and for better preparation for pre-med students.

  6. Jordan says:

    Education standards in the U.S. are also fairly rigorous. Just to play the Devil’s advocate.. It’s entirely possible that these standards are in keeping with hippocratic traditions..

  7. Gabriel Odom says:

    Jordan, if that was the only reason, medical tourism would not be the booming international industry it is today.

  8. rough_neck says:

    Strange that they are giving foreign doctors hell to practice here, when at the same time they accept foreign engineers with no problems.

    Just because they are foreign doesn’t mean they are bad, foreign engineers help design Google, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Hondas, Accuras, BMWs, Lexus, and lots of other electronics equipment being used by everybody, including the medical community. So why would USA doctors think foreign Doctors are not smart enough, when foreign engineers out do USA engineers every day of the week? I think USA doctors want to keep all the cash for themselves.