William & Mary

White doctors earn more money than black physicians, study finds

In an Aug. 1 Medical Economics article, Peter McHenry, an associate professor of economics at William & Mary, discussed wage gaps between black and white physicians.


According to the article, a Harvard study found that despite identical educational levels and credentials among all male doctors, white doctors earn significantly more than black doctors even when specialty, number of hours worked and practice type are accounted for.

But the study wasn’t able to identify the exact aspects that led to higher incomes among white male doctors.

McHenry calculated compensation differences with a different study on the topic – the 2014 Community Survey, and confirmed the Harvard report that black physicians earn less on average and at the median than white physicians.

“This is true for wage and salary income and also for a total income measure that adds business income to wage and salary income,” said McHenry. “When I looked at the 2014 data, I noticed smaller wage gaps for younger physicians. The [Harvard] study focuses on physicians aged 35 and over. The racial wage gap might widen over physicians’ careers, or the gap might be closing over time.”