MEDFL5285 – The Economics of Hospitals: Competition, Price Incentives, Non-profit status and Waiting Times

Course content

The course will give an overview of the vast empirical literature investigating the determinants of hospital behaviour with a particular focus on quality and empirical methods.

The course is relevant for PhD candidates who draw on quantitiative methods in their research.

The course will focus on three main policy leavers: competition and choice policy; price incentives through a DRG-type of system; profit versus non-profit status. The module will also explore the role of waiting time in the provision of hospital services.

Each topic will be introduced by a theoretical framework following by a detailed analysis of empirical (econometric) methods and key empirical results. Empirical models will cover cross-sectional, panel-data models, instrumental variables approach, and natural experiments.

Learning outcome

When the course has been completed the student should be able to:


  • describe how hospitals respond to economic incentives
  • explain different policy levers to influence hospital behaviour
  • describe different methods to test specific assumptions about hospital behaviour, and to characterise their strengths and weaknesses


  • critically appraise empirical studies on hospital behaviour
  • design an empirical study on hospital behaviour
  • identify appropriate statistical/econometric method to investigate hospital data
  • analyse hospital data
  • discuss how competition and choice policies might affect hospital quality and waiting times

General competence

  • critically evaluate studies using hospital data
  • critically assess empirical analyses in relation to posed policy-relevant research question
  • raise critical questions to your own Research
  • reflect on the general ideas on how to test specific assumptions on hospital behavior


The course is restricted to students at the Medical Student Research Programme at the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Dentistry, UiO.

Students apply in StudentWeb

The courses MEDFL5280 and HES9285 have common admission


Recommended previous knowledge

Some knowledge of econometrics would be helpful.


One week (Monday to Friday) every second year (spring semester).

Lecture: 9.00 am - 11.30 am

Student presentations: 1.00 pm - 2.30 pm

Question and answer session and open discussion: 3 pm - 4 pm


Student presentations will cover i) a paper from the reading list; ii) a thesis chapter.

Question and answer session will be such that Luigi will first ask some questions in related to material covered, answer questions from the students, and from the second day cover answers of the problem set given to students at the end of each day (on which students can work from 4pm onwards for about an hour which has to be submitted in the following morning).

You have to participate in at least 80 % of the teaching to be allowed to take the exam. Attendance will be registered.


Assessment: After the course, students will submit a short essay answering a question from a short list.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2017


Every other autumn starting 2017

Teaching language