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Selling Formal Insurance to the Informally Insured

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  • Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

    ()
    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Mark Rosenzweig

    (Economic Growth Center, 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 1007.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1007

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Keywords: index insurance; risk sharing; basis risk;

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  1. 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.
  2. Eswaran, Mukesh & Kotwal, Ashok, 1989. "Credit as insurance in agrarian economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 37-53, July.
  3. 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.
  4. Robert M. Townsend, . "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-3a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  5. Cole, Shawn & Gine, Xavier & Tobacman, Jeremy & Topalova, Petia & Townsend, Robert & Vickery, James, 2010. "Barriers to household risk management : evidence from India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5504, The World Bank.
  6. 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.
  7. Kaivan Munshi, 2011. "Strength in Numbers: Networks as a Solution to Occupational Traps," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 1069-1101.
  8. 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.
  9. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 2002. "Household Division and Rural Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 839-69, October.
  10. Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang & Li-An Zhou, 2009. "Microinsurance, Trust and Economic Development: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. World Bank, 2005. "Managing Agricultural Production Risk : Innovations in Developing Countries," World Bank Other Operational Studies 8797, The World Bank.
  16. Daniel J. Clarke, 2011. "A Theory of Rational Demand for Index Insurance," Economics Series Working Papers 572, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Felipe Kast & Dina Pomeranz, 2014. "Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile," NBER Working Papers 20239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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).
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00796528 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Cho, Yoonyoung & Kalomba, Davie & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Orozco, Victor, 2013. "Gender differences in the effects of vocational training : constraints on women and drop-out behavior," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6545, The World Bank.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  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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