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Informal Risk Sharing in an Infinite-Horizon Experiment

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  • Gary Charness
  • Garance Genicot

Abstract

Our laboratory study of risk sharing without commitment captures the main features of a simple model of voluntary insurance. Participants are paired in matches with stochastic endings. Each period they receive fixed endowments and one of the pair (randomly-drawn) also receives an additional amount; they can then make voluntary transfers to each other. While smoothing consumption is attractive, only self-enforcing risk sharing is possible. We find evidence supporting the theory: transfers provide insurance to individuals, a higher match continuation probability raises transfers and more risk-averse individuals make larger transfers. More surprisingly, transfers decrease with ex ante inequality, potentially reflecting considerations of identity. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.

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  • Gary Charness & Garance Genicot, 2009. "Informal Risk Sharing in an Infinite-Horizon Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 796-825, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:119:y:2009:i:537:p:796-825
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    1. Hill, Ruth Vargas & Viceisza, Angelino, 2010. "An experiment on the impact of weather shocks and insurance on risky investment," IFPRI discussion papers 974, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Antonio Filippin & Paolo Crosetto, 2016. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Management Science, INFORMS, pages 3138-3160.
    3. Cettolin, Elena & Tausch, Franziska, 2016. "Risk taking and risk sharing: does responsibility matter? (RM/13/045-revised-)," Research Memorandum 018, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    4. Renate Strobl & Conny Wunsch, 2017. "Does Voluntary Risk Taking Affect Solidarity? Experimental Evidence from Kenya," CESifo Working Paper Series 6578, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Todd Cherry & E. Lance Howe & James J. Murphy, 2012. "Sharing as Risk Pooling in a Social Dilemma Experiment," Working Papers 2012-01, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
    6. Nicolas Lampach & Kene Boun My & Sandrine Spaeter, 2016. "Risk, Ambiguity and Efficient Liability Rules: An experiment," Working Papers of BETA 2016-30, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    7. Martin Ravallion, 2017. "Global Inequality when Unequal Countries Create Unequal People," NBER Working Papers 24177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. de Oliveira, Angela C.M. & Eckel, Catherine C. & Croson, Rachel T.A., 2014. "Solidarity among the poor," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 144-148.
    9. Shoji, Masahiro, 2016. "Incentive of risk sharing and trust formation: Experimental and survey evidence from Bangladesh," MPRA Paper 71950, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Tausch, Franziska & Potters, Jan & Riedl, Arno, 2013. "Preferences for redistribution and pensions. What can we learn from experiments?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 298-325, July.
    11. Elena Cettolin & Franziska Tausch, 2015. "Risk taking and risk sharing: Does responsibility matter?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 229-248, June.
    12. Fischer, Gregory, 2013. "Contract structure, risk sharing and investment choice," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 46796, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Jonathan Robinson, 2012. "Limited Insurance within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 140-164, October.
    14. Lucy Ackert & Ann Gillette & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2011. "Are benevolent dictators altruistic in groups? A within-subject design," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(3), pages 307-321, September.
    15. Katerina Sherstyuk & Nori Tarui & Tatsuyoshi Saijo, 2013. "Payment schemes in infinite-horizon experimental games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(1), pages 125-153, March.
    16. Chakraborty, Tanika & Mirkasimov, Bakhrom & Steiner, Susan, 2015. "Transfer behavior in migrant sending communities," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 690-705.
    17. E. Lance Howe & James J. Murphy & Drew Gerkey & Colin T. West, 2015. "Indirect Reciprocity, Resource Sharing, and Environmental Risk: Evidence from Field Experiments in Siberia," Working Papers 2015-04, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
    18. Vesely, Stepan & Wengström, Erik, 2017. "Risk and Cooperation: Experimental Evidence from Stochastic Public Good Games," Working Papers 2017:3, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    19. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-192, January.
    20. Charness, Gary & Viceisza, Angelino, 2011. "Comprehension and risk elicitation in the field: Evidence from rural Senegal," IFPRI discussion papers 1135, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    21. Paul J. Healy & Yaron Azrieli & Christopher P. Chambers, 2016. "Incentives in Experiments: A Theoretical Analysis," Working Papers 16-03, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
    22. Lin, Wanchuan & Liu, Yiming & Meng, Juanjuan, 2014. "The crowding-out effect of formal insurance on informal risk sharing: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 184-211.
    23. Ruth Hill & Angelino Viceisza, 2012. "A field experiment on the impact of weather shocks and insurance on risky investment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(2), pages 341-371, June.

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