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Insurance Demand and Prospect Theory

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  • Ulrich Schmidt

Abstract

Empirical evidence has shown that people are unwilling to insure rare losses at subsidized premiums and at the same time take-up insurance for moderate risks at highly loaded premiums. This paper explores whether prospect theory, in particular diminishing sensitivity and loss aversion, can accommodate this evidence. A crucial factor for applying prospect theory to insurance problems is the choice of the reference point. We motivate and explore two possible reference points, state-dependent initial wealth and final wealth after buying full insurance. It turns out that particularly the latter reference point seems to provide a realistic explanation of the empirical evidence

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 1750.

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Length: 6 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1750

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Keywords: insurance demand; prospect theory; flood insurance; diminishing sensitivity; loss aversion;

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  1. Schmidt, Ulrich & Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 2008. "Third-generation prospect theory," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 28932, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  2. Kunreuther, Howard & Pauly, Mark, 2006. "Insurance Decision-Making and Market Behavior," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 1(2), pages 63-127, April.
  3. Han Bleichrodt & Jose Luis Pinto & Peter P. Wakker, 2001. "Making Descriptive Use of Prospect Theory to Improve the Prescriptive Use of Expected Utility," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(11), pages 1498-1514, November.
  4. Ganderton, Philip T, et al, 2000. " Buying Insurance for Disaster-Type Risks: Experimental Evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 271-89, May.
  5. Morrison, Gwendolyn C, 2000. "The Endowment Effect and Expected Utility," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(2), pages 183-97, May.
  6. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  7. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  8. Howard Kunreuther & Mark Pauly, 2004. "Neglecting Disaster: Why Don't People Insure Against Large Losses?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 5-21, January.
  9. Philip Ganderton & David Brookshire & Michael McKee & Steve Stewart & Hale Thurston, 2000. "Buying Insurance for Disaster-Type Risks: Experimental Evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 271-289, May.
  10. Susan K. Laury & Melayne Morgan McInnes & J. Todd Swarthout, 2008. "Insurance Purchase for Low-Probability Losses," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2008-03, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Oct 2008.
  11. John C. Hershey & Paul J. H. Schoemaker, 1985. "Probability Versus Certainty Equivalence Methods in Utility Measurement: Are they Equivalent?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(10), pages 1213-1231, October.
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