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Selling Formal Insurance to the Informally Insured

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  • Mobarak, A. Mushfiq

    (Yale University)

  • Rosenzweig, Mark

    (Yale University)

Abstract

Unpredictable rainfall is an important risk for agricultural activity, and farmers in developing countries often receive incomplete insurance from informal risk-sharing networks. We study the demand for, and effects of, offering formal index-based rainfall insurance through a randomized experiment in an environment where the informal risk sharing network can be readily identified and richly characterized: sub-castes in rural India. A model allowing for both idiosyncratic and aggregate risk shows that informal networks lower the demand for formal insurance only if the network indemnifies against aggregate risk, but not if its primary role is to insure against farmer-specific losses. When formal insurance carries basis risk (mismatches between payouts and actual losses due to the remote location of the rainfall gauge), informal risk sharing that covers idiosyncratic losses enhance the benefits of index insurance. Formal index insurance enables households to take more risk even in the presence of informal insurance. We find substantial empirical support of these nuanced predictions of the model by conducting the experiment (randomizing both index insurance offers, and the locations of rainfall gauges) on castes for whom we have a rich history of group responsiveness to household and aggregate rainfall shocks.

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Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 97.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:97

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  1. Barry J. Barnett & Olivier Mahul, 2007. "Weather Index Insurance for Agriculture and Rural Areas in Lower-Income Countries," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1241-1247.
  2. Gine, Xavier & Yang, Dean, 2007. "Insurance, credit, and technology adoption : field experimental evidence from Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4425, The World Bank.
  3. Robert M. Townsend, . "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-3a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2002. "Informal Insurance Arrangements with Limited Commitment: Theory and Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 209-244.
  5. Maurizio Mazzocco & Shiv Saini, 2012. "Testing Efficient Risk Sharing with Heterogeneous Risk Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 428-68, February.
  6. Daniel J. Clarke, 2011. "A Theory of Rational Demand for Index Insurance," Economics Series Working Papers 572, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Household Division and Rural Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 839-869.
  8. 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.
  9. Barnett, Barry J. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Skees, Jerry R., 2008. "Poverty Traps and Index-Based Risk Transfer Products," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1766-1785, October.
  10. Gine, Xavier & Townsend, Robert & Vickery, James, 2007. "Statistical analysis of rainfall insurance payouts in southern India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4426, The World Bank.
  11. World Bank, 2005. "Managing Agricultural Production Risk : Innovations in Developing Countries," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8797, The World Bank.
  12. Petia Topalova & Shawn Cole & Xavier Gene & Jeremy Tobacman & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2011. "Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India," Working Papers id:4293, eSocialSciences.
  13. Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang & Li-An Zhou, 2009. "Microinsurance, Trust and Economic Development: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-034, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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  15. Shiv Saini & Maurizio Mazzocco, 2010. "Testing Efficient Risk Sharing with Heterogeneous Risk Preferences," 2010 Meeting Papers 237, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2009. "Why is Mobility in India so Low? Social Insurance, Inequality, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 14850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Janzen, Sarah A. & Carter, Michael R., 2013. "The Impact of Microinsurance on Consumption Smoothing and Asset Protection: Evidence from a Drought in Kenya," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 151141, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  2. de Janvry, A. & Dequiedt, V. & Sadoulet, E., 2014. "The demand for insurance against common shocks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 227-238.
  3. Felipe Kast & Dina Pomeranz, 2013. "Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-001, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2014.
  4. Matsuda, Ayako & Kurosaki, Takashi & Sawada, Yasuyuki, 2013. "Rainfall and Temperature Index Insurance in India: Project Documentation," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 34, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  5. Cho, Yoon Y. & Kalomba, Davie & Mobarak, A. Mushfiq & Orozco, Victor, 2013. "Gender Differences in the Effects of Vocational Training: Constraints on Women and Drop-Out Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 7408, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Baez, Javier E. & Kronick, Dorothy & Mason, Andrew D., 2012. "Rural Households in a Changing Climate," IZA Discussion Papers 6872, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Michael Kremer & Jean Lee & Jonathan Robinson & Olga Rostapshova, 2013. "Behavioral Biases and Firm Behavior: Evidence from Kenyan Retail Shops," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 362-68, May.
  8. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00796528 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Clarke, Danielle & Das, Narayan C. & de Nicola, Francesca & Hill, Ruth Vargas & Kumar, Neha & Mehta, Parendi, 2012. "The value of customized insurance for farmers in rural Bangladesh:," IFPRI discussion papers 1202, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  10. Dercon, Stefan & Hill, Ruth Vargas & Clarke, Daniel & Outes-Leon, Ingo & Seyoum Taffesse, Alemayehu, 2014. "Offering rainfall insurance to informal insurance groups: Evidence from a field experiment in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 132-143.

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