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Does Propitious Selection Explain why Riskier People buy less Insurance?

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  • De Donder, Philippe
  • Hindriks, Jean

Abstract

Empirical testing of asymmetric information in the insurance market has uncovered a negative correlation between risks levels and insurance purchases, rather than the positive correlation predicted by the standard insurance theory. Hemenway (1990) proposes an explanation for this negative correlation, called “propitious selection”. He argues that potential insurance buyers have different tastes for risk and that ‘individuals who are highly risk avoiding are more likely both to try to reduce the hazard and to purchase insurance’ (p. 1064). Chiappori and Salanie (2000) also suggest that this line of argument, which they call ‘cherry picking’, may explain the observed negative correlation. In this paper, we show that the propitious selection argument does not imply negative correlation between risk levels and insurance purchases, because it fails to take into account the supply side of the insurance market. To illustrate this claim, we provide a model where, although we assume that individuals differ in risk aversion and that the more risk averse individuals exert more precaution and buy more insurance, we end up with a positive correlation between risk and insurance purchases at equilibrium. The reason is that, in any separating equilibrium, the more risk averse individuals face insurance overprovision which, combined with moral hazard, increases their risk relative to the less risk averse individuals. To obtain the negative correlation between risk and insurance purchases, one further needs the extra condition of decreasing marginal willingness to pay for the less risk averse individuals. Finally, we find that propitious selection has profound policy implications for social insurance

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 399.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, vol.�38, n°1, février 2009, p.�73-86.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:5516

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  1. DE DONDER, Philippe & HINDRIKS, Jean, . "The politics of redistributive social insurance," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1674, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Salanie, 2000. "Testing for Asymmetric Information in Insurance Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 56-78, February.
  3. Hemenway, David, 1992. " Propitious Selection in Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 247-51, July.
  4. 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.
  5. Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 1998. "Should More Risk-Averse Agents Exert More Effort," Working Papers 98-12, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  6. Jullien, Bruno & Salanié, Bernard & Salanié, François, 2001. "Screening Risk-Averse Agents Under Moral Hazard," IDEI Working Papers 131, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  7. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2003. "Private Information and its Effect on Market Equilibrium: New Evidence from Long-Term Care Insurance," NBER Working Papers 9957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Hemenway, David, 1990. "Propitious Selection," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1063-69, November.
  11. Louis Eeckhoudt & Christian Gollier, 2005. "The impact of prudence on optimal prevention," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 989-994, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Hultkrantz, Lars & Lindberg, Gunnar, 2009. "Pay-As-You-Speed: An Economic Field-Experiment," Working Papers 2009:12, Örebro University, School of Business.
  2. Tsvetanka Karagoyozova & Peter Siegelman, 2006. "Is There Propitious Selection in Insurance Markets?," Working papers 2006-20, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  3. Alma Cohen & Peter Siegelman, 2010. "Testing for Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(1), pages 39-84.
  4. Stanciole, Anderson, 2007. "Health Insurance and Life Style Choices: Identifying the Ex Ante Moral Hazard," IRISS Working Paper Series 2007-10, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  5. Nick Netzer & Florian Scheuer, 2006. "Competitive Screening in Insurance Markets with Endogenous Labor Supply," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 614, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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