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Informal Risk Sharing in an Infinite-Horizon Experiment

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  • Gary Charness
  • Garance Genicot

Abstract

Our laboratory study of risk sharing without commitment captures the main features of a simple model of voluntary insurance. Participants are paired in matches with stochastic endings. Each period they receive fixed endowments and one of the pair (randomly-drawn) also receives an additional amount; they can then make voluntary transfers to each other. While smoothing consumption is attractive, only self-enforcing risk sharing is possible. We find evidence supporting the theory: transfers provide insurance to individuals, a higher match continuation probability raises transfers and more risk-averse individuals make larger transfers. More surprisingly, transfers decrease with ex ante inequality, potentially reflecting considerations of identity. Copyright � The Author(s). Journal compilation � Royal Economic Society 2009.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 119 (2009)
Issue (Month): 537 (04)
Pages: 796-825

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:119:y:2009:i:537:p:796-825

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  1. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Are the poor less well insured? Evidence on vulnerability to income risk in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 61-81, February.
  3. Robert M. Townsend, . "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-3a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
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  5. Pramila Krishnan & Stefan Dercon, 1997. "In sickness and in health ... risk-sharing within households in rural Ethiopia," CSAE Working Paper Series 1997-12, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  6. Dubois, Pierre & Ligon, Ethan A., 2011. "Incentives and nutrition for rotten kids: intrahousehold food allocation in the Philippines," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt0c6758hs, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  7. Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
  8. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-96, March.
  9. Cason, Timothy N., 1995. "Cheap talk price signaling in laboratory markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 183-204, June.
  10. John Bone & John Hey & John Suckling, 2004. "A Simple Risk-Sharing Experiment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 23-38, January.
  11. Kenneth M. Kletzer and Brian D. Wright., 1998. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C98-100, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Reinhard Selten & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Klaus Abbink, 1999. "Money Does Not Induce Risk Neutral Behavior, but Binary Lotteries Do even Worse," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 213-252, June.
  13. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 1998. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," JCPR Working Papers 41, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  14. Kocherlakota, Narayana R, 1996. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 595-609, October.
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  18. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Robinson, Jonathan, 2008. "Limited Insurance Within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," MPRA Paper 8314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Lucy Ackert & Ann Gillette & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2011. "Are benevolent dictators altruistic in groups? A within-subject design," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 307-321, September.
  3. Tausch Franziska & Potters Jan & Riedl Arno, 2011. "Preferences for Redistribution and Pensions: What Can We Learn from Experiments?," Research Memorandum 014, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  4. Filippin, A. & Crosetto, P., 2014. "A reconsideration of gender differences in risk attitudes," Working Papers 2014-01, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  5. Katerina Sherstyuk & Nori Tarui & Tatsuyoshi Saijo, 2013. "Payment schemes in infinite-horizon experimental games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 125-153, March.
  6. Ruth Hill & Angelino Viceisza, 2012. "A field experiment on the impact of weather shocks and insurance on risky investment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 341-371, June.
  7. Charness, Gary & Viceisza, Angelino, 2012. "Comprehension and Risk Elicitation in the Field: Evidence from Rural Senegal," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt5512d150, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  8. Hill, Ruth Vargas & Viceisza, Angelino, 2010. "An experiment on the impact of weather shocks and insurance on risky investment," IFPRI discussion papers 974, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  9. Robinson, Jonathan & Dupas, Pascaline, 2009. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt34w0w53t, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.

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