Author(s): Martin Gchter, Peter Schwazer, Engelbert Theurl, Hannes Winner
Objectives : We investigated the determinants of disparities in the regional density of private dentists in Aust ria. Specifically , we focused on the relationship between the density of private dentists and their public counterparts, thereby controlling for other possible covariates of dentist density . Methods: Dent ist density was measured at the district level. We used panel data of dentist density from 121 Austrian districts over the years 2001 to 2008. We applied a Hausman -Taylor framework to cope with possible endogeneity and to control for cross -district effects in the dentist density . Results: A significant negative relationship was found between the density of private and public den tists , indicating a substitution effect between the two dentist groups. A signi ficant positive spatial relationship also exist ed for private and public dentists in the neighboring regions . Dental capacities in public and private hospita ls and dental laboratories run by the public health insurance system did not have a significant effect on private dentist density. Conclusions: Alth ough a strong negative relationship exist ed between private and publi c dentists within the districts , one should not draw the conclusion that private dentists in Austria are close substitute s for public dent ists. Such a conclusion would require further empiri cal analysis on the utilization patterns of dental services and their relationships with financing mechanisms.