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Consumption Insurance: An Evaluation of Risk-Bearing Systems in Low-Income Economies

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  • Robert M. Townsend

Abstract

The hypothesis of full risk sharing can be taken to data from low-income countries and evaluate formal and informal financial systems. In many contexts, idiosyncratic risks are high, so credit/insurance arrangements could be beneficial. Statistical tests reveal that households in southern India take advantage of these possibilities; villages in Cote d'Ivoire and countries in Thailand do not do as well. The paper includes an empirical description of the devices used to smooth consumption and a theoretical discussion of private information and incentives on ideal operating systems. The full information and mechanism design frameworks provide benchmarks for policy analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert M. Townsend, 1995. "Consumption Insurance: An Evaluation of Risk-Bearing Systems in Low-Income Economies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 83-102, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:3:p:83-102
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.3.83
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
    6. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1988. "Risk, Implicit Contracts and the Family in Rural Areas of Low-income Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(393), pages 1148-1170, December.
    7. Stephen E. Spear & Sanjay Srivastava, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617.
    8. Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, and the Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1076-1107, October.
    9. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
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    11. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-976, October.
    12. Phelan, Christopher, 1994. "Incentives, insurance, and the variability of consumption and leisure," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(3-4), pages 581-599.
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    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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