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WALES ESRC DTP PHD ‘COLLABORATIVE’ STUDENTSHIP - Investigating the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine in the UK (in collaboration with Office of Manpower Economics (OME))

Project Description

In May 2018 the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt promised to “eradicate the Gender Pay Gap (GPG) in medicine” prompting new research and policy attention. A recent Office of Manpower Economics (OME) report (link to report below) by Cardiff Business School estimated the hourly GPG within the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) to be 20 per cent, higher than in any of the other Pay Review Bodies (PRBs) considered. The report also found evidence that GPG is more pronounced towards the top of the wage distribution within the UK public sector, consistent with a ‘glass ceiling’. This PhD aims to build on these findings by further exploring the GPG among UK doctors. In doing so, it will provide evidence of particular relevance to the DDRB which covers 217,000 workers and is responsible for a pay bill of £19 billion (OME, 2017).

The proposal builds on international research which explores, and can only partially explain, the persistent GPG among US physicians (Ohsfeldt and Culler, 1986; Baker, 1996; Jagsi et al., 2012; Weaver et al., 2015). The UK context, specific public sector legislative equality environment and role of the PRBs in recommending pay awards, make this analysis a unique and interesting international comparator. The focus on a highly qualified and gender balanced occupation also serves as an interesting case study from which to explore the UK GPG.

Possible research questions include:
1. What are the size and determinants of the GPG among doctors employed in the UK, in particular, are there gender differences in personal and/or work-related characteristics that determine earnings or in the returns to these characteristics?
2. How do the size and determinants of the GPG among doctors vary across the earnings distribution?
3. Are there gender differences in career paths and pay progression among doctors, and how do these affect the GPG over the life-cycle?
4. Are there gender differences in hours worked, overtime, patterns of work and performance-related pay among doctors, and how do these affect the GPG?
5. How have the GPG among doctors, and its drivers, changed over time?

This project involves applying advanced quantitative methods, specifically undertaking econometric analysis of micro-data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, the Annual Population Survey and (access permitting) NHS digital records which provide complementary information on earnings and a range of personal and work-related characteristics of doctors in the UK. Information from NHS digital will supplement that from national surveys and facilitate analysis of specific aspects of the profession e.g. specialism and grade. The analysis will apply established regression and decomposition methodologies (e.g. Oaxaca, 1973; Machado and Mata, 2005) specifically to the UK medical profession.

This PhD is in collaboration with the OME, which provides the secretariat to eight PRBs which make recommendations on the pay of 2.5 million workers or 45 per cent of public sector employees including the DDRB. A collaborative PhD student would thus have a unique opportunity to learn from their expertise in public sector labour markets and gain experience of evidence-based government policy development. As such, the successful candidate will have an opportunity to undertake policy-relevant analysis, disseminate their findings to key stakeholders and to receive training in external engagement and developing research impact.

Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second-class honours degree, and an appropriate master’s degree with an average mark of at least 65%.

Depending on academic background, the studentship is available:
- Normally, as a ‘1+1+2 studentship’, involving two full-time years of research training, comprising of the MSc Economics and MRes Economics programmes, followed by two years of full-time Doctoral study
- In exceptional cases, as a ‘1+2’ studentship, comprising of one full-time year of research training in the MRes Economics programme, followed by two years of full-time Doctoral study

A completed application form should be submitted no later than 3rd February 2020. In the funding section, please select “I will be applying for a scholarship/grant” and “ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership”.

Please include:
1. Covering Letter
2. Academic Qualifications
3. Two References
4. CV
5. Research Proposal (maximum 1000 words), taking into consideration the working title of the project.

This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team ().

Funding Notes

Cardiff Business School, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales, invites applications for funded PhD study. The ‘collaborative studentships’, involve liaison with a non-academic organisation, often at many key stages of the research programme. They will commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,009 p.a. for 2019/20 for full-time students);and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant.

Full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements.


Baker, L. C. (1996) ‘Differences in earnings between male and female physicians’, New England Journal of Medicine, 334(15): 960–964.

Jagsi, R., Griffith, K. A., Stewart, A., Sambuco, D., DeCastro, R., and Ubel, P. A. (2012) ‘Gender differences in the salaries of physician researchers’, Jama, 307(22): 2410–2417.

Machado, J. A. F. and Mata, J. (2005) ‘Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression’, Journal of Applied Econometrics, 20(4): 445-465.

Oaxaca, R. L. (1973) ‘Male-female wage differentials in urban labor markets’, International Economic Review, 14(3): 693–709.

Office of Manpower Economics (2017) Business Plan 2018-2019, London.

Ohsfeldt, R. L. and Culler, S. D. (1986) ‘Differences in income between male and female physicians’, Journal of Health Economics, 5(4): 335–346.

Weaver, A. C., Wetterneck, T. B., Whelan, C. T. and Hinami, K. (2015) ‘A matter of priorities? Exploring the persistent gender pay gap in hospital medicine’, Journal of Hospital Medicine, 10(8): 486–490.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 72.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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