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Adverse Selection in Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence from the U.K. Annuity Market

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  • Amy Finkelstein
  • James Poterba

Abstract

This paper presents new evidence on the importance of adverse selection in insurance markets. We use a unique data set, consisting of all annuity policies sold by a large U.K. insurance company since the early 1980s, to analyze mortality differences across groups of individuals who purchased different types of policies. We find systematic relationships between ex-post mortality and annuity policy characteristics, such as whether the annuity will make payments to the estate in the event of an untimely death and whether the payments from the annuity rise over time. These mortality patterns are consistent with models of asymmetric information in insurance markets. We find no evidence of mortality differences, however, across annuities of different size, as measured by the initial annual payment from the annuity. We also study differences in the pricing of different annuity products, and find that the pricing of various features of annuity contracts is consistent with the self-selection patterns we find in mortality rates. Our results therefore suggest that many specific features of insurance contracts can serve as screening mechanisms. This implies that insurance markets may be characterized by adverse selection, even when stratifying policyholders by the amount of payment in case of a claim does not support the existence of selection effects.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8045.

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Date of creation: Dec 2000
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Publication status: published as Finkelstein, Amy and James Poterba. "Adverse Selection In Insurance Markets: Policyholder Evidence From The U.K. Annuity Market," Journal of Political Economy, 2004, v112(1,Feb), 183-208.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8045

Note: AG CF PE
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  1. Tomas J. Philipson & Gary S. Becker, 1998. "Old-Age Longevity and Mortality-Contingent Claims," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 551-573, June.
  2. Abel, Andrew B, 1986. "Capital Accumulation and Uncertain Lifetimes with Adverse Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1079-97, September.
  3. Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, . "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," Pension Research Council Working Papers 97-9, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Brugiavini, Agar, 1993. "Uncertainty resolution and the timing of annuity purchases," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 31-62, January.
  5. 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.
  6. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 2002. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 966-985, October.
  7. James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1999. "The Costs of Annuitizing Retirement Payouts from Individual Accounts," NBER Working Papers 6918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "Unemployment Insurance And Unemployment Spells," NBER Working Papers 2546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1, octubre-d.
  10. Friedman, Benjamin M & Warshawsky, Mark J, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-54, February.
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  12. Han, Aaron & Hausman, Jerry A, 1990. "Flexible Parametric Estimation of Duration and Competing Risk Models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(1), pages 1-28, January-M.
  13. Puelz, Robert & Snow, Arthur, 1994. "Evidence on Adverse Selection: Equilibrium Signaling and Cross-Subsidization in the Insurance Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 236-57, April.
  14. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 2000. "Mortality Risk, Inflation Risk, and Annuity Products," NBER Working Papers 7812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Amy Finkelstein & James Poterba, 1999. "Selection Effects in the Market for Individual Annuities: New Evidence from the United Kingdom," NBER Working Papers 7168, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1987. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 7-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "Annuity Prices and Saving Behavior in the United States," NBER Working Papers 1683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Jeffrey R. Brown & James M. Poterba, 1999. "Joint Life Annuities and Annuity Demand by Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 7199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Michael Smart, 1996. "Competitive Insurance Markets with Two Unobservables," Working Papers msmart-96-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  20. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1988. "Annuity Prices and Saving Behavior in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 53-84 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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