Turning the Big Mac Index into the Medical MAC Index

  • JM Wilson
  • TK Wilson


Objective: The purpose of this study was to create a global medical earnings index, called the Medical MAC Index, to enable a comparison of what medical specialists earn in the countries included in the study.
Design: The study gathered data on the earnings of specialist anaesthetists employed in state hospitals with five years’ work experience, across 49 developed and developing countries.
Setting and subjects: The earnings of anaesthetists were deemed to be indicative of all medical specialities because anaesthesia is one of the largest specialities, and most state hospitals do not distinguish between medical specialities from an earnings perspective. It is likely that a specialist with five years’ work experience would have reached the higher echelons of state salary scales, but it is unlikely that he or she would have moved into a management role yet.
Outcome measures: To calculate a Medical MAC Index for a specific country, the net earnings of anaesthetists in the countries included in the study were converted into USA dollars, and adjusted using Xpatulator’s purchasing power parity model, and then compared to the net earnings of an anaesthetist in that specific country. The specific country was the baseline. Countries above the line pay more, and those below the line, less.
Results: The Medical MAC Index for South Africa showed that medical specialists employed by the state in South Africa earn more than they would in most developing countries, but their earnings lag behind those of many developed countries.
Conclusion: South Africa could become more competitive if tax incentives were used to manipulate the data.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2220-1173
print ISSN: 2220-1181