So I’ve learnt that doctors prefer to marry other doctors. Well, there’s nothing new in this. When I think about my extended families, and doctors there, most of them I realize are married to other doctors. The ostensible reason, I’m told, is that it’s a different lifestyle, and only doctors can understand the lifestyles of other doctors, and hence this preference. It cannot be ruled out, however, that it is a fallout of pretty good gender ratios and long hours at medical colleges, which leads to coupling – with the “understand each other’s professions” only being a fig leaf.
While people in other professions also marry within their profession (again put down to ease of “meeting”), this tendency is especially exaggerated among doctors. The problem with this, though, is that it doesn’t make financial sense.
Now, the deal with doctors is that they don’t earn good money until very late. After you’ve finished your bachelors, you first need to slog it off for a few years before you get a masters seat. And once you’ve finished your masters, you need to slog for a few years at a hospital which will pay you a pittance, until a point comes in life when you become senior enough that you start getting paid well.
Typically, most doctors (in India) don’t make much at all till they are 35, and after that they get flooded with money. Now, if two doctors marry, that means they are starved of cash flow during their prime years – time when their engineer and MBA counterparts will be minting money, traveling the world, having kids and buying houses. By the time the doctor couple makes money, they would probably be well past their youth, and it is only their descendants that will get to really enjoy their cash flows.
If a doctor marries an engineer (or an MBA), though, cash flows are better hedged. While it is true of all professions that salary goes up with years of experience, the curve isn’t as steep for professions apart from doctors. So, a doctor-MBA couple (say) can live a good life on the MBAs salary till they are in their mid-late 30s, by which time the doctor’s career would have begun to take off and the MBA would have begun to burn out. And then the doctor’s enhanced cash flow starts kicking in! Great hedge, I would say!
So dear doctors, unless you have fallen in love with a classmate at medical school (which has effectively locked you in to a lifetime of poor cash flow structures), reconsider. Consider marrying out of your profession. Yes, it might be harder for you to get each others’ professions. But at least your finances are taken care of!
PS: Some other professions such as lawyers and accountants also have a fairly steep salary increase curve – starting off at a pittance and then later making money. But in these professions people end up getting to “partner level” at around 30, which is far superior to doctors. Then again, such professionals don’t inter-marry within profession as much as doctors do.