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December 5, 1980

Physicians' Practice Experience During the Decade of the 1970s

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Health Services Research and Development, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1980;244(22):2514-2518. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310220016008

MANY changes affected all aspects of the US economy in the decade of the 1970s, not the least of which is the practice of medicine. Real gross national product increased approximately 33% during the 1970s, compared with 46% during the 19602.1 The cost of living rose 103.6% in the 1970s vs 28.3% during the 1960s (oral communication, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oct 16, 1980). The unemployment rate was 5.8% of the labor force in 1979, compared with 3.5% in 1969 and 5.5% in 1959.1

The disappointing performance of the economy during the 1970s and the resulting need to consider trade-offs in the use of the national product have important implications for the health care system in general and physicians in particular. Inflation contributes significantly to rising medical care prices, and the government's taxing, spending, and monetary policies impact on the practice of medicine just as they do in