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Premium estimation inaccuracy and the actuarial performance of the US crop insurance program

Author

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  • Octavio A. Ramirez
  • Carlos A. Carpio

Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of the levels of inaccuracy associated with three different premium estimation methods, one of which attempts to mimic the protocol currently used by the Risk Management Agency (RMA), on the actuarial performance of the US crop insurance program. Design/methodology/approach - The analyses are conducted using empirically-grounded simulation and other computational methods, under various plausible assumptions about the producer's risk aversion behavior and knowledge of his/her actuarially fair premium. Findings - Regardless of the assumed producer knowledge and behavior, it is concluded that the persistently high government subsidy levels required to keep the program solvent could be solely explained by the inaccuracy in the RMA's premium estimates. In other words, the observed need for large subsidies does not necessarily imply that the program is systematically favoring less efficient farmers or particular crops or production areas. Also, contrary to the commonly accepted “adverse selection” argument, it is shown that farmers having more information about their actuarially fair premiums than the insurer is not the reason why high subsidies are needed. Actuarial performance, however, could be improved by using the more elaborate methods exemplified in the paper, as well as larger sample sizes for premium estimation. Originality/value - The paper provides conclusions and recommendations that could substantially reduce the amount of public subsidies needed to keep the US crop insurance program solvent.

Suggested Citation

  • Octavio A. Ramirez & Carlos A. Carpio, 2012. "Premium estimation inaccuracy and the actuarial performance of the US crop insurance program," Agricultural Finance Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 72(1), pages 117-133, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:afrpps:v:72:y:2012:i:1:p:117-133
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carriquiry, Miguel A. & Babcock, Bruce A. & Hart, Chad E., 2008. "Using a Farmer's Beta for Improved Estimation of Expected Yields," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 33(01), April.
    2. Keith H. Coble & Thomas O. Knight & Rulon D. Pope & Jeffery R. Williams, 1996. "Modeling Farm-Level Crop Insurance Demand with Panel Data," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(2), pages 439-447.
    3. Ramirez, Octavio A. & Carpio, Carlos E. & Rejesus, Roderick M., 2011. "Can Crop Insurance Premiums Be Reliably Estimated?," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, pages 81-94.
    4. Octavio A. Ramirez & Sukant Misra & James Field, 2003. "Crop-Yield Distributions Revisited," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(1), pages 108-120.
    5. Barry J. Barnett, 2000. "The U.S. Federal Crop Insurance Program," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 48(4), pages 539-551, December.
    6. Octavio A. Ramírez, 1997. "Estimation and Use of a Multivariate Parametric Model for Simulating Heteroskedastic, Correlated, Nonnormal Random Variables: The Case of Corn Belt Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Yields," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(1), pages 191-205.
    7. Octavio A. Ramírez & Tanya McDonald, 2006. "Ranking Crop Yield Models: A Comment," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(4), pages 1105-1110.
    8. Joseph W. Glauber, 2004. "Crop Insurance Reconsidered," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1179-1195.
    9. Ramirez, Octavio A. & Carpio, Carlos E. & Rejesus, Roderick M., 2011. "Can Crop Insurance Premiums Be Reliably Estimated?," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, pages 81-94.
    10. Harwood, Joy L. & Heifner, Richard G. & Coble, Keith H. & Perry, Janet E. & Somwaru, Agapi, 1999. "Managing Risk in Farming: Concepts, Research, and Analysis," Agricultural Economics Reports 34081, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    11. Ramirez, Octavio A. & McDonald, Tanya U. & Carpio, Carlos E., 2010. "A Flexible Parametric Family for the Modeling and Simulation of Yield Distributions," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, pages 303-319.
    12. Alan P. Ker & Keith Coble, 2003. "Modeling Conditional Yield Densities," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(2), pages 291-304.
    13. Bailey Norwood & Matthew C. Roberts & Jayson L. Lusk, 2004. "Ranking Crop Yield Models Using Out-of-Sample Likelihood Functions," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1032-1043.
    14. Roderick M. Rejesus, 2010. "Evaluation of the reference yield calculation method in crop insurance," Agricultural Finance Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 70(3), pages 427-445, November.
    15. Alan P. Ker, 2001. "Private Insurance Company Involvement in the U.S. Crop Insurance Program," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 49(4), pages 557-566, December.
    16. Ramirez, Octavio A. & McDonald, Tanya U. & Carpio, Carlos E., 2010. "A Flexible Parametric Family for the Modeling and Simulation of Yield Distributions," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, pages 303-319.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory Colson & Octavio A. Ramirez & Shengfei Fu, 2014. "Crop Insurance Savings Accounts: A Viable Alternative to Crop Insurance?," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 36(3), pages 527-545.
    2. Awondo, Sebastain Nde & Datta, Gauri S. & Ramirez, Octavio A. & Fonsah, Esendugue Greg, 2012. "Estimation of crop yield distribution and Insurance Premium using Shrinkage Estimator: A Hierarchical Bayes and Small Area Estimation Approach," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 126778, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Ramirez, Octavio A. & Carpio, Carlos E. & Collart, Alba J., 2014. "Producer Welfare Implications of the RMA’s “Shrinkage” Crop Insurance Premium Estimator," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 168367, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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