Pay or conditions? The role of workplace characteristics in nurses’ labor supply

Barbara Eberth, Robert F. Elliott, Diane Skatun

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Empirically rigorous studies of nursing labour supply have to date relied on extant secondary data and focused almost exclusively on the role of pay. Yet the conditions under which nurses work and the timing and convenience of the hours they work are also important determinants of labour supply. Where there are national pay structures and pay structures are relatively inflexible, as in nursing in European countries, these factors become more important. One of the principal ways in which employers can improve the relative attractiveness of nursing jobs is by changing these other conditions of employment. This study uses new primary data to estimate an extended model of nursing labour supply. It is the first to explore whether and how measures of non-pecuniary workplace characteristics and observed individual (worker) heterogeneity over non–pecuniary job aspects impact estimates of the elasticity of hours with respect to wages. Our results have implications for the future sustainability of an adequately sized nurse workforce and patient care especially at a time when European healthcare systems are confronted with severe financial pressures that have resulted in squeezes in levels of healthcare funding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-785
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Health Economics
Issue number6
Early online date9 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments We are grateful for the thoughtful comments of
two referees. We would also like to thank conference participants at the Scottish Economic Society Conference and seminar participants at Newcastle University. Receipt of financial support from the ESRC is gratefully acknowledged (RES-000-23-1240). The Health Economics Research Unit is funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors.


  • Nurses labor supply
  • Worker heterogeneity
  • Compensating wage differentials
  • Primary data


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