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[Excerpt] Why should the former President of Harvard University be concerned that during the 1970s and 1980s the earnings of doctors, lawyers in private practice, and top corporate executives grew substantially relative to the earnings of professors, teachers, and high level federal civil servants? Why should he care that physicians with specialized hospital-based practices, such as neurosurgeons, have seen their earnings rise substantially relative to physicians practicing family medicine during the same period?

In each case, the answer is that Bok believes that occupational choices are determined, at least at the margin, by the pecuniary and nonpecuniary benefits that the various professions offer. Thus, he fears that the growing earnings differentials have diverted America's "best and brightest" away from occupations that he considers vitally important for our society, the professoriate, teaching, the federal civil service, and primary care medicine. Given this belief, his goal is to put forth a menu of reforms that might induce an increased supply of talented individuals to these occupations.


Suggested Citation
Ehrenberg, R. G. (1995). [Review of the book The cost of talent: How executives and professionals are paid and how it affects America] [Electronic version]. Journal of Economic Literature 33(1), 245-247.

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