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Consumption Insurance: An Evaluation of Risk-Bearing Systems in Low-Income Economies

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  • Robert M. Townsend

Abstract

The hypothesis of full risk sharing can be taken to data from low-income countries and evaluate formal and informal financial systems. In many contexts, idiosyncratic risks are high, so credit/insurance arrangements could be beneficial. Statistical tests reveal that households in southern India take advantage of these possibilities; villages in Cote d'Ivoire and countries in Thailand do not do as well. The paper includes an empirical description of the devices used to smooth consumption and a theoretical discussion of private information and incentives on ideal operating systems. The full information and mechanism design frameworks provide benchmarks for policy analysis.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.9.3.83
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 9 (1995)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 83-102

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:3:p:83-102

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.3.83
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  1. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Papers 168, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  3. Altug, Sumru & Miller, Robert A, 1990. "Household Choices in Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 543-70, May.
  4. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1986. "Risk, Implicit Contracts and the Family in Rural Areas of Low-Income Countries," Bulletins 7518, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  6. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  7. Jeremy Greenwood & Boyan Jovanovic, 1989. "Financial Development, Growth, and the Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 3189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Phelan, Christopher, 1994. "Incentives, insurance, and the variability of consumption and leisure," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(3-4), pages 581-599.
  9. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1986. "Optimal cartel equilibria with imperfect monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 251-269, June.
  10. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-76, October.
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