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Does propitious selection explain why riskier people buy less insurance?

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  • DE DONDER, Philippe
  • HINDRIKS, Jean

Abstract

Empirical testing of asymmetric information in the insurance market has uncovered a negative correlation between risk levels and insurance purchases, rather than the positive correlation predicted by the standard insurance theory. Hemenway (1990) proposes an explanation for this negative correlation, called "propitious selection". He argues that potential insurance buyers have different tastes for risk and that "individuals who are highly risk avoiding are more likely both to try to reduce the hazard and to purchase insurance" (p. 1064). Chiappori and Salanié (2000) also suggest that this line of argument, which they call "cherry picking", may explain the observed negative correlation. In this paper, we show that the propitious selection argument does not imply negative correlation between risk levels and insurance purchases, because it fails to take into account the supply side of the insurance market. To illustrate this claim, we provide a model where, although we assume thatindividuals differ in risk aversion and that the more risk averse individuals exert more precaution and buy more insurance, we end up with a positive correlation between risk and insurance purchases at equilibrium. The reason is that, in any separating equilibrium, the more risk averse individuals face insurance overprovision which, combined with moral hazard, increases theirrisk relative to the less risk averse individuals. To obtain the negative correlation between risk and insurance purchases, one further needs the extra condition of decreasing marginal willingness to pay for the less risk averse individuals. Finally, we find that propitious selection has profound policy implications for social insurance.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2006032.

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Date of creation: 00 Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2006032

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Keywords: preference-based adverse selection; cherry picking; precaution; social insurance;

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References

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  1. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  2. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
  3. Hindriks, Jean & De Donder, Philippe, 2003. "The politics of redistributive social insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2639-2660, December.
  4. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Salanie, 2000. "Testing for Asymmetric Information in Insurance Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 56-78, February.
  5. De Meza, D. & Webb, D.C., 2000. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Market," Discussion Papers 0007, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
  6. Jullien, Bruno & Salanié, Bernard & Salanié, François, 2001. "Screening Risk-Averse Agents Under Moral Hazard," IDEI Working Papers 131, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  7. Hemenway, David, 1992. " Propitious Selection in Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 247-51, July.
  8. Jullien, B. & Salanie, B. & Salanie, F., 1998. "Should More Risk-Averse Agents Exert More Effort?," Papers 98.489, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  9. Hemenway, David, 1990. "Propitious Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1063-69, November.
  10. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2003. "Private Information and its Effect on Market Equilibrium: New Evidence from Long-Term Care Insurance," NBER Working Papers 9957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Louis Eeckhoudt & Christian Gollier, 2005. "The impact of prudence on optimal prevention," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 989-994, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Hultkrantz, Lars & Lindberg, Gunnar, 2009. "Pay-As-You-Speed: An Economic Field-Experiment," Working Papers 2009:12, Örebro University, School of Business.
  2. Tsvetanka Karagoyozova & Peter Siegelman, 2006. "Is There Propitious Selection in Insurance Markets?," Working papers 2006-20, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  3. Nick Netzer & Florian Scheuer, 2006. "Competitive Screening in Insurance Markets with Endogenous Labor Supply," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 614, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2009. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," NBER Working Papers 15586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Stanciole, Anderson, 2007. "Health Insurance and Life Style Choices: Identifying the Ex Ante Moral Hazard," IRISS Working Paper Series 2007-10, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.

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