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Informal Insurance Arrangements in Village Economies

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Author Info

  • Ethan Ligon
  • Jonathan P Thomas
  • Tim Worrall

Abstract

This paper studies insurance arrangements in village economies when there is complete information but limited commitment. Commitment is limited because only limited penalties can be imposed on households which renege on their promises. Any efficient insurance arrangements must therefore take into account that households will renege if the benefits from doing so outweigh the costs. We study a general model which admits aggregate and idiosyncratic risk as well as serial correlation of incomes. It is shown that in the case of two households and no storage the efficient insurance arrangement is characterized by a simple updating rule. An example illustrates the similarity of the efficient arrangement to a simple debt contract with occasional debt forgiveness. The model is then extended to multiple households in southern India to test the theory against three alternative models: autarky, full insurance, and a static model of limited commitment due to Coate and Ravaillon (1993). Overall, the model we develop does a significantly better job of explaining the data than does any of these alternatives.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm in its series CRIEFF Discussion Papers with number 9705.

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Date of creation: Oct 1997
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Handle: RePEc:san:crieff:9705

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Related research

Keywords: Village economy; efficient insurance; limited commitment;

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Cited by:
  1. Ana María Ibañez & Andrés Moya, 2010. "Do Conflicts Create Poverty Traps? Asset Losses and Recovery for Displaced Households in Colombia," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 137-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Attanasio, Orazio & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 2000. "Consumption smoothing in island economies: Can public insurance reduce welfare?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1225-1258, June.
  3. Robert Holzmann & Steen Jørgensen, 2001. "Social Risk Management: A New Conceptual Framework for Social Protection, and Beyond," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 529-556, August.
  4. Rafael Di Tella & Robert MacCulloch, 2002. "Informal Family Insurance And The Design Of The Welfare State," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 481-503, July.
  5. Paul Huck & Sherrie L. W. Rhine & Philip Bond & Robert Townsend, 1999. "Small business finance in two Chicago minority neighborhoods," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 46-62.
  6. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 1999. "Quantitative asset pricing implications of endogenous solvency constraints," Working Papers 99-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  7. Sutherland, Alan, 2002. "International monetary policy coordination and financial market integration," Working Paper Series 0174, European Central Bank.
  8. Paul Mosley & Robert Holzmann & Steen Jorgensen, 1999. "Social protection as social risk management: conceptual underpinnings for the social protection sector strategy paper," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(7), pages 1005-1027.
  9. Patrick J. Kehoe & Fabrizio Perri, 2000. "International business cycles with endogenous incomplete markets," Staff Report 265, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Broer, Tobias, 2011. "The wrong shape of insurance? What cross-sectional distributions tell us about models of consumption-smoothing," CEPR Discussion Papers 8701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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