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Relation of Per Capita Income and Gross Domestic Product to the Supply and Distribution of Pediatricians in the United States

Authors: 
Freed GL, Nahra TA, Wheeler JR; Research Advisory Committee of the American Board of Pediatrics
Year: 
2004
Journal: 
Journal of Pediatrics
Pub Med #: 
Abstract: 

Objective
To describe the number and distribution of pediatricians per child nationally and on a state-by-state basis relative to the economic conditions within each state.

Study Design
Real inflation-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (1996 dollars) was plotted against the number of all active physicians and pediatricians in the United States for all years data were available. GDP was then compared with the active number of pediatric medical physicians per child 0 to 14 years of age.

Results
The number of pediatricians per 100000 children has more than doubled, from 49.8 to 106.2. Since 1929, the growth in the total number of physicians per capita in the United States has followed a linear relation (r(2)=0.977) with per capita national GDP. This relation is consistent with that specifically for all pediatricians as well (r(2)=0.980) for the years in which data are available (1963 to 2000). There is an extremely uneven distribution of pediatricians. Income differences only partially explain this maldistribution.

Conclusions
There has been a marked increase in the number of pediatricians relative to the number of children in the United States, correlating strongly with the rise in per capita GDP. However, there has been a furthering of their uneven distribution across the United States.