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Narrow Framing and Life Insurance

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  • Daniel Gottlieb
  • Kent Smetters

Abstract

Life insurance is a large yet poorly understood industry. A final death benefit is not paid for a majority of policies. Insurers make money on customers that lapse their policies and lose money on customers that keep their coverage. Policy loads are inverted relative to the dynamic pattern consistent with reclassification risk insurance. As an industry, insurers lobby to ban secondary markets despite the liquidity provided. These (and other) stylized facts cannot easily be explained by information problems alone. We demonstrate that a simple model of narrow framing, where consumers do not fully account for their need for future liquidity when purchasing insurance, offers a simple and unified explanation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18601.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18601

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  1. Igal Hendel & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2003. "The Role Of Commitment In Dynamic Contracts: Evidence From Life Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 299-327, February.
  2. John A. List, 2003. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," NBER Working Papers 9736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Michael D. Grubb, 2009. "Selling to Overconfident Consumers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1770-1807, December.
  4. Erik Eyster & Georg Weizsäcker, 2011. "Correlation Neglect in Financial Decision-Making," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1104, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran, 2008. "Consumer optimism and price discrimination," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(4), December.
  6. Hanming Fang & Edward Kung, 2010. "How Does Life Settlement Affect the Primary Life Insurance Market?," NBER Working Papers 15761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daniel Gottlieb, 2008. "Competition over Time-Inconsistent Consumers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(4), pages 673-684, 08.
  8. Daniel Kahneman & Dan Lovallo, 1993. "Timid Choices and Bold Forecasts: A Cognitive Perspective on Risk Taking," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(1), pages 17-31, January.
  9. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang & Richard H. Thaler, 2006. "Individual Preferences, Monetary Gambles, and Stock Market Participation: A Case for Narrow Framing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1069-1090, September.
  10. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Felső, Flóra Á & Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2014. "Broad and narrow bracketing in gift certificate spending," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 284-302.

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