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Regulation, Capital, and the Evolution of Organizational Form in US Life Insurance


  • George Zanjani


This paper studies the association between regulation and the organizational form of new life insurers between 1900 and 1949. The mutual form was popular in states with low initial capital requirements for mutual companies and differentially higher requirements for stock companies, but was rarely used elsewhere. This suggests that entrepreneurs took a "path of least resistance" when choosing organizational form and that the mutual's disadvantage in raising capital contributed to its decline–a decline that accelerated as states raised requirements and eliminated the aforementioned differentials. Contrary to previous analysis, the paper finds little evidence connecting other regulations to mutual decline. (JEL G21, L51, N21, N22)

Suggested Citation

  • George Zanjani, 2007. "Regulation, Capital, and the Evolution of Organizational Form in US Life Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 973-983, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:3:p:973-983 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.3.973

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gentry, William M., 1994. "Taxes, financial decisions and organizational form : Evidence from publicly traded partnerships," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 223-244, February.
    2. Lowry, Michelle, 2003. "Why does IPO volume fluctuate so much?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 3-40, January.
    3. Choe, Hyuk & Masulis, Ronald W. & Nanda, Vikram, 1993. "Common stock offerings across the business cycle : Theory and evidence," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 3-31, June.
    4. Krupa S. Viswanathan & J. David Cummins, 2003. "Ownership Structure Changes in the Insurance Industry: An Analysis of Demutualization," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 70(3), pages 401-437.
    5. Damodaran, Aswath & John, Kose & Liu, Crocker H., 1997. "The determinants of organizational form changes: evidence and implications from real estate," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 169-192, August.
    6. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R., 2005. "The long-run equity risk premium," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 185-194, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patricia Born & M. Martin Boyer, 2011. "Claims‐Made and Reported Policies and Insurer Profitability in Medical Malpractice," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 78(1), pages 139-162, March.
    2. Martin Eling & David Pankoke, 2016. "Costs and Benefits of Financial Regulation: An Empirical Assessment for Insurance Companies," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 41(4), pages 529-554, October.
    3. Laux, Christian & Muermann, Alexander, 2010. "Financing risk transfer under governance problems: Mutual versus stock insurers," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 333-354, July.
    4. Dionne, Georges & Harrington, Scott, 2017. "Insurance and Insurance Markets," Working Papers 17-2, HEC Montreal, Canada Research Chair in Risk Management.
    5. John E. Murray, 2011. "Asymmetric Information and Countermeasures in Early Twentieth‐Century American Short‐Term Disability Microinsurance," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 78(1), pages 117-138, March.
    6. Braun, Alexander & Schmeiser, Hato & Rymaszewski, Przemysław, 2015. "Stock vs. mutual insurers: Who should and who does charge more?," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 242(3), pages 875-889.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • N21 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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