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Harmful competition in the insurance markets

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  • Giuseppe De Feo

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)

  • Jean Hindriks

    ()
    (Department of Economics and CORE, Universite catholique de Louvain, Belgium)

Abstract

There is a general presumption that competition is a good thing. In this paper we show that competition in the insurance markets can be bad and that adverse selection is in general worse under competition than under monopoly. The reason is that monopoly can exploit its market power to relax incentive constraints by cross-subsidization between different risk types. Cream-skimming behavior, on the contrary, prevents competitive firms from using implicit transfers. In effect monopoly is shown to provide better coverage to those buying insurance but at the cost of limiting participation to insurance. Performing simulation for different distributions of risk, we find that monopoly in general performs (much) better than competition in terms of the realization of the gains from trade across all traders in equilibrium. However, most of the surplus is retained by the firm and, as a result, most individuals prefer competitive markets notwithstanding their performance is generally poorer than monopoly.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0921.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:0921

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Keywords: monopoly; competition; insurance; adverse selection.;

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References

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  1. Alberto Bisin & Piero Gottardi, 2005. "Efficient Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection," CESifo Working Paper Series 1504, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. DE FEO, Giuseppe & HINDRIKS, Jean, 2005. "Efficiency of competition in insurance markets with adverse selection," CORE Discussion Papers 2005054, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  4. Hellwig,Martin, 1986. "Some recent developments in the theory of competition in markets with adverse selection," Discussion Paper Serie A 82, University of Bonn, Germany.
  5. Jean Hindriks & Philippe De Donder, 2001. "The Politics of Redistributive Social Insurance," Working Papers 444, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  6. Mailath, George J, 1987. "Incentive Compatibility in Signaling Games with a Continuum of Types," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1349-65, November.
  7. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2001. "Competitive Pooling: Rothschild-Stiglitz Reconsidered," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1346R2, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Feb 2002.
  8. Jaffee, Dwight & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1990. "Credit rationing," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 837-888 Elsevier.
  9. John G. Riley, 2001. "Silver Signals: Twenty-Five Years of Screening and Signaling," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 432-478, June.
  10. Engers, Maxim & Fernandez, Luis F, 1987. "Market Equilibrium with Hidden Knowledge and Self-selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 425-39, March.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Less competition is good for insurance
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-05-19 14:14:00

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