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Profitability and Efficiency in the U.S. Life Insurance Industry

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  • William Greene

    ()

  • Dan Segal

    ()

Abstract

This study explores the relationship between cost inefficiency and profitability in the U.S. life insurance industry. Earnings have particular importance to life insurance companies because earnings and capital determine the viability of the insurer. Since the life insurance industry is mature and highly competitive, cost efficiency may be the main driver of profitability. We derive cost efficiency using the stochastic frontier (SF) method allowing the mean inefficiency to vary with organizational form and the outputs. In addition, the estimation of the cost efficiency measure takes into account the underlying accounting concepts that generate the data and, consequently, the product mix (long-duration policies vs. short-duration policies) to avoid distorted estimates. Our results suggest that cost inefficiency in the life insurance industry is substantial relative to earnings, and that inefficiency is negatively associated with profitability measures such as the return on equity. The analysis of inefficiency and organizational form suggest that stock (shareholder-owned) companies are as efficient and profitable as mutual (policyholder-owned) companies. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Productivity Analysis.

Volume (Year): 21 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 229-247

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jproda:v:21:y:2004:i:3:p:229-247

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100296

Related research

Keywords: stochastic frontier; cost inefficiency; profitability; life insurance; organizational form;

References

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  1. Yuengert, Andrew M., 1993. "The measurement of efficiency in life insurance: Estimates of a mixed normal-gamma error model," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 483-496, April.
  2. Andrew M. Yuengert, 1993. "The measurement of efficiency in life insurance estimates of a mixed normal-gamma error model," Research Paper 9308, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Mayers, David & Smith, Clifford W, Jr, 1988. "Ownership Structure across Lines of Property-Casualty Insurance," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 351-78, October.
  4. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
  5. Reifschneider, David & Stevenson, Rodney, 1991. "Systematic Departures from the Frontier: A Framework for the Analysis of Firm Inefficiency," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(3), pages 715-23, August.
  6. Gardner, Lisa A. & Grace, Martin F., 1993. "X-Efficiency in the US life insurance industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 497-510, April.
  7. Stevenson, Rodney E., 1980. "Likelihood functions for generalized stochastic frontier estimation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 57-66, May.
  8. Gilligan, Thomas & Smirlock, Michael & Marshall, William, 1984. "Scale and scope economies in the multi-product banking firm," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 393-405, May.
  9. Jondrow, James & Knox Lovell, C. A. & Materov, Ivan S. & Schmidt, Peter, 1982. "On the estimation of technical inefficiency in the stochastic frontier production function model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 233-238, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Chrysovalantis Gaganis & Iftekhar Hasan & Fotios Pasiouras, 2013. "Efficiency and stock returns: evidence from the insurance industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 429-442, December.
  2. J. Cummins & Xiaoying Xie, 2013. "Efficiency, productivity, and scale economies in the U.S. property-liability insurance industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 141-164, April.
  3. Mei-Ying Huang & Tsu-Tan Fu, 2013. "An examination of the cost efficiency of banks in Taiwan and China using the metafrontier cost function," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 387-406, December.
  4. Biener, Christian & Eling, Martin, 2012. "Organization and efficiency in the international insurance industry: A cross-frontier analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 221(2), pages 454-468.
  5. Jarraya, Bilel & Bouri, Abdelfettah, 2012. "Efficiency concept and investigations in insurance industry: A survey," MPRA Paper 53544, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2013.
  6. Huang, Wei & Eling, Martin, 2013. "An efficiency comparison of the non-life insurance industry in the BRIC countries," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 226(3), pages 577-591.

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