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J Health Econ. 2001 Nov;20(6):881-907.

Statistical discrimination in health care.

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  • 1Department of Economics, Boston University, MA 02115, USA.


This paper considers the role of statistical discrimination as a potential explanation for racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The underlying problem is that a physician may have a harder time understanding a symptom report from minority patients. If so, even if there are no objective differences between Whites and minorities, and even if the physician has no discriminatory motives, minority patients will benefit less from treatment, and may rationally demand less care. After comparing these and other predictions to the published literature, we conclude that statistical discrimination is a potential source of racial/ethnic disparities, and worthy of research.

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