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Asymmetric information, heterogeneity in risk perceptions and insurance: an explanation to a puzzle

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  • Kostas Koufopoulos
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    Abstract

    Given that, in equilibrium, all agents freely opt for strictly positive own coverage, competitive models of asymmetric information predict a positive relationship between coverage and ex post risk (accident probability). On the other hand, some recent empirical studies find either negative or no correlation. This paper, by introducing heterogeneity in risk perceptions into an asymmetric information competitive model, provides an explanation to this puzzle. The more optimistic agents underestimate their accident probability relative to less optimistic and so purchase less insurance. They also tend to be less willing to take precautions. This gives rise to separating equilibria exhibiting negative or no correlation between coverage and ex post risk that potentially explain the puzzling empirical findings. Moreover, the no-correlation equilibrium involves some agents being quantity-constrained due to adverse selection. Thus, although the no-correlation empirical findings indicate that there may not be risk-related adverse selection, they do not imply the absence of other forms of adverse selection that have significant effects on the resulting equilibrium.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/24906/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 24906.

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    Length: 18 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2002
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:24906

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    1. 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.
    2. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
    3. Richard J. Arnott & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1990. "The Basic Analytics of Moral Hazard," NBER Working Papers 2484, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Georges Dionne & Christian Gourieroux & Charles Vanasse, 2001. "Testing for Evidence of Adverse Selection in the Automobile Insurance Market: A Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 444-473, April.
    5. Villeneuve, Bertrand, 2000. "The consequences for a monopolistic insurance firm of evaluating risk better than customers : The adverse selection hypothesis reversed," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/5367, Paris Dauphine University.
    6. Manove, M. & Padilla, A.J., 1997. "Banking (Conservatively) with Optimists," Papers 9718, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
    7. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 2001. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 249-62, Summer.
    8. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-69, December.
    9. Chassagnon, A. & Chiappori, P.A., 1994. "Insurance Under Moral Hazard and Adverse Selection: The Case of Pure Competition," Papers 28, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
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