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Risk Pooling, Commitment and Information: An experimental test of two fundamental assumptions

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  • Abigail Barr

    ()
    (Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford)

Abstract

This paper presents rigorous and direct tests of two assumptions relating to limited commitment and asymmetric information that underpin current models of risk pooling. A specially designed economic experiment involving 678 subjects across 23 Zimbabwean villages is used to solve the problems of observability and quantification that have frustrated previous attempts to conduct such tests. I find that more extrinsic commitment is associated with more risk pooling, but that more information is associated with less risk pooling. The first of these results accords with our expectations and assumptions. The second does not. I offer two explanations as to the origin of the second result and discuss their implications for how we view the assumptions made elsewhere in the literature. I also conduct a test of the relevance or external validity of the experimental results to our understanding of real risk pooling behaviour. In four out of the five villages for which the test could be conducted the networks of risk pooling contracts constructed during the experiment and the networks existing in real life were significantly correlated.

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File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/2003-05text.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Working Papers with number 2082.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:feb:wpaper:2082

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Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

Related research

Keywords: Field experiment; Asymmetric information; Limited commitment; Villages; Economic development; Risk; Insurance;

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References

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  6. Posner, Richard A. & Rasmusen, Eric B., 1999. "Creating and enforcing norms, with special reference to sanctions1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 369-382, September.
  7. Fafchamps, Marcel & Lund, Susan, 2003. "Risk-sharing networks in rural Philippines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 261-287, August.
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  9. 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.
  10. Holzmann, Robert & Packard, Truman & Cuesta, Jose, 2000. "Extending coverage in multi-pillar pension systems : constraints and hypotheses, preliminary evidence and future research agenda," Social Protection Discussion Papers 21303, The World Bank.
  11. Ligon, Ethan, 1998. "Risk Sharing and Information in Village Economics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 847-64, October.
  12. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-91, May.
  13. 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.
  14. Ravallion, Martin & Dearden, Lorraine, 1988. "Social Security in a "Moral Economy": An Empirical Analysis for Java," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 36-44, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Cárdenas, Juan Camilo & Chong, Alberto & Ñopo, Hugo, 2013. "Stated social behavior and revealed actions: Evidence from six Latin American countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 16-33.
  2. Vanessa Ríos & Alberto E. Chong & Hugo R. Ñopo, 2009. "Do Welfare Programs Damage Interpersonal Trust?: Experimental Evidence from Representative Samples for Four Latin American Cities," IDB Publications 6758, Inter-American Development Bank.
  3. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2008. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 311-338.
  4. Alberto Chong & Hugo Ñopo & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2008. "To What Extent do Latin Americans Trust and Cooperate? Field Experiments on Social Exclusion In Six Latin American Countries," Research Department Publications 4577, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  5. Robinson, Jonathan, 2008. "Limited Insurance Within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," MPRA Paper 8314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Experiments and Economic Development: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0505, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  7. Alberto Chong & Hugo Ñopo & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2008. "Hasta que punto los latinoamericanos conf'ian y cooperan? Experimentos de campo sobre exclusión social en seis países de América Latina," Research Department Publications 4578, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  8. Santos, Paulo & Barrett, Christopher B., 2006. "Informal Insurance in the Presence of Poverty Traps: Evidence from Southern Ethiopia," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25487, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  9. A. Chaudhuri & L. Gangadharan & Pushkar Maitra, 2005. "An Experimental Analysis ofGroup Size and Risk Sharing," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 955, The University of Melbourne.

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