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Social Norms and Individual Savings in the Context of Informal Insurance

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  • Zaki Wahhaj

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Abstract

This paper develops a theory of informal insurance in the presence of an intertemporal technology. It is shown that when an insurance agreement suffers from enforcement problems, constraints on individual savings behaviour can enable the group to sustain greater cooperation. This result provides a motivation for a variety of social norms observed in traditional societies which discourage 'excessive' accumulation of wealth by individuals. The paper also shows that social norms that discourage savings are more likely to benefit poorer communities and thus, paradoxically, cause them to fall further behind even as it serves a useful purpose.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University in its series CEDI Discussion Paper Series with number 08-20.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edb:cedidp:08-20

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  1. Besley, T., 1993. "Savings, Credit and Insurance," Papers 167, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. GOBERT, Karine & POITEVIN, Michel, 1998. "Non-Commitment and Savings in Dynamic Risk-Sharing Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9806, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  3. Allen, Franklin, 1985. "Repeated principal-agent relationships with lending and borrowing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 27-31.
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  8. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
  9. Harold L Cole & Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Efficient Allocations with Hidden Income and Hidden Storage," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1909, David K. Levine.
  10. Andrew Atkeson & Robert E Lucas, 2010. "On Efficient Distribution with Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2179, David K. Levine.
  11. Francis Bloch & Vijayendra Rao & Sonalde Desai, 2004. "Wedding Celebrations as Conspicuous Consumption: Signaling Social Status in Rural India," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
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  14. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2000. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(2), pages 216-246, April.
  15. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2004. "Figuring out the Impact of Hidden Savings on Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 541-554, July.
  16. Marcle Fafchamps, 1999. "Risk sharing and quasi-credit," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 257-278.
  17. Ligon, Ethan & Thomas, Jonathan P & Worrall, Tim, 2002. "Informal Insurance Arrangements with Limited Commitment: Theory and Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 209-44, January.
  18. Gauthier, Celine & Poitevin, Michel & Gonzalez, Patrick, 1997. "Ex Ante Payments in Self-Enforcing Risk-Sharing Contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 106-144, September.
  19. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1988. "Self-enforcing Wage Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 541-54, October.
  20. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  21. 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.
  22. Coate, S. & Ravallion, M., 1989. "Reciprocity Without Commitment: Characterization and Performance of Informal Risk-Sharing Arrangements," Papers 96, Warwick - Development Economics Research Centre.
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Cited by:
  1. Sarmistha Pal & Zaki Wahhaj, 2012. "Fiscal Decentralisation, Local Institutions and Public Goods Provision: Evidence from Indonesia," Studies in Economics 1216, Department of Economics, University of Kent.

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