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Over the past ten years, the number of veterinarians in rural areas has declined in many countries, giving rise to concerns about the geographical coverage of livestock health care. However, very little scientific work has been devoted to veterinarian shortage areas. This paper aims to shed light on this issue. Using econometric models based on count data, we test the effect of geographical and socio-economic characteristics of French living zones on the number of new veterinarians established in 2014. This work generated several findings. First, our study emphasises the importance of taking into account the heterogeneity of veterinarians. Indeed, the estimation results highly depend on the type of animals treated and gender. Second, we observed that the location of food animal practitioners depends on the characteristics of local demand (size and type of animal production) as well as on labour supply factors (natural or urban amenities, public service facilities). The results suggest that the risk of veterinarian shortages may be higher for areas specialised in animal production other than bovine (sheep, goats). They also suggest that maintaining public services may be a key issue for attracting food animal veterinarians in remote rural areas. Finally, our results show that veterinarians tend to cluster, which suggests that new veterinarians choose to establish themselves as employees or associates in already existing veterinary offices in order to share costs and minimise risks.


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