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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Health Economics Review 1/2012

Which patients do I treat? An experimental study with economists and physicians

Health Economics Review > Ausgabe 1/2012
Marlies Ahlert, Stefan Felder, Bodo Vogt
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​2191-1991-2-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

MA, SF, and BV carried out the analysis and wrote the paper together. All three authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This experiment investigates decisions made by prospective economists and physicians in an allocation problem which can be framed either medically or neutrally. The potential recipients differ with respect to their minimum needs as well as to how much they benefit from a treatment. We classify the allocators as either 'selfish', 'Rawlsian', or 'maximizing the number of recipients'. Economists tend to maximize their own payoff, whereas the physicians' choices are more in line with maximizing the number of recipients and with Rawlsianism. Regarding the framing, we observe that professional norms surface more clearly in familiar settings. Finally, we scrutinize how the probability of being served and the allocated quantity depend on a recipient's characteristics as well as on the allocator type.
JEL Classification: A13, I19, C91, C72
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