1640 Cumberland Ave.
Howard H.. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996
Institutional Affiliation: University of Tennessee
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2019||Capacity Constraints and the Provision of Public Services: The Case of Workers in Public Health Clinics|
with Matthew C. Harris, Ian McCarthy: w25706
Unlike in the production of most goods, changes in capacity for labor-intensive services only affect outcomes of interest insofar as service providers change the way they allocate their time in response to those capacity changes. In this paper, we examine how public sector service providers respond to unexpected capacity constraints in the specific context of public health clinics. We exploit an exogenous reduction in public health clinic capacity to quantify nurses' trade-off between patients treated and time spent with each patient, which we treat as a proxy for a quality v. quantity decision. We provide evidence that these small and generally insignificant effects on nurse time favor public sector employees prioritizing quality of each interaction over clearing the patient queue.