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The Theory of Risk-Bearing: Small and Great Risks


  • Arrow, Kenneth J


Under certain conditions, risk-sharing and, in particular, insurance are mutually advantageous transactions. An ideal competitive market for risk-shifting is described; the payments received by individuals depend on the resolution of all the uncertainties at the time of the market, including, for example, damages to all parties, not just to the insured. In an ideal system, premiums depend only on the total damage in a given state, not on its distribution over individuals. In particular, mitigation measures are optimally induced. The differences between the ideal model of insurance and the real world are described, and some explanations offered. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Arrow, Kenneth J, 1996. "The Theory of Risk-Bearing: Small and Great Risks," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 12(2-3), pages 103-111, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:12:y:1996:i:2-3:p:103-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anna Alberini & Maureen Cropper & Alan Krupnick & Nathalie Simon, 2006. "Willingness to pay for mortality risk reductions: Does latency matter?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 231-245, May.
    2. Ladenburg, Jacob & Olsen, Søren Bøye, 2008. "Gender-specific starting point bias in choice experiments: Evidence from an empirical study," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 275-285, November.
    3. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Calculating Risks?: The Spatial and Political Dimensions of Hazardous Waste Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262082780, July.
    4. James Hammitt & Jin-Tan Liu, 2004. "Effects of Disease Type and Latency on the Value of Mortality Risk," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 73-95, January.
    5. Maureen L. Cropper & Sema K. Aydede & Paul R. Portney, 1991. "Discounting Human Lives," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1410-1415.
    6. Alberini, Anna & Chiabai, Aline, 2007. "Urban environmental health and sensitive populations: How much are the Italians willing to pay to reduce their risks?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 239-258, March.
    7. Hanley, Nick & Mourato, Susana & Wright, Robert E, 2001. " Choice Modelling Approaches: A Superior Alternative for Environmental Valuation?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 435-462, July.
    8. Michael Chernew & Gautam Gowrisankaran & Catherine McLaughlin & Teresa Gibson, 2003. "Quality and Employers' Choice of Health Plan," NBER Working Papers 9847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Eeckhoudt, Louis R & Hammitt, James K, 2001. "Background Risks and the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 261-279, November.
    10. Takahiro Tsuge & Atsuo Kishimoto & Kenji Takeuchi, 2005. "A Choice Experiment Approach to the Valuation of Mortality," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 73-95, July.
    11. Fredrik Carlsson & Peter Martinsson, 2008. "How Much is Too Much?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(2), pages 165-176, June.
    12. Henrik Andersson, 2005. "The Value of Safety as Revealed in the Swedish Car Market: An Application of the Hedonic Pricing Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 211-239, May.
    13. Sujitra Vassanadumrongdee & Shunji Matsuoka, 2005. "Risk Perceptions and Value of a Statistical Life for Air Pollution and Traffic Accidents: Evidence from Bangkok, Thailand," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 261-287, May.
    14. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
    15. Orley Ashenfelter, 2006. "Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 10-23, March.
    16. Chilton, Susan & Covey, Judith & Hopkins, Lorraine & Jones-Lee, Michael & Loomes, Graham & Pidgeon, Nick & Spencer, Anne, 2002. "Public Perceptions of Risk and Preference-Based Values of Safety," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 211-232, November.
    17. James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 1999. "Are Risk Regulators Rational? Evidence from Hazardous Waste Cleanup Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 1010-1027, September.
    18. Blomquist, Glenn C, 1979. "Value of Life Saving: Implications of Consumption Activity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 540-558, June.
    19. Moore, Michael J & Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Models for Estimating Discount Rates for Long-term Health Risks Using Labor Market Data," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 381-401, December.
    20. Horowitz, John K & Carson, Richard T, 1990. "Discounting Statistical Lives," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 403-413, December.
    21. Cropper, Maureen L & Aydede, Sema K & Portney, Paul R, 1992. "Rates of Time Preference for Saving Lives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 469-472, May.
    22. Anna Alberini & Stefania Tonin & Margherita Turvani & Aline Chiabai, 2007. "Paying for permanence: Public preferences for contaminated site cleanup," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 155-178, April.
    23. Ted Gayer & James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 2002. "The Market Value of Reducing Cancer Risk: Hedonic Housing Prices with Changing Information," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 266-289, October.
    24. Kenshi Itaoka & Aya Saito & Alan Krupnick & Wiktor Adamowicz & Taketoshi Taniguchi, 2006. "The Effect of Risk Characteristics on the Willingness to Pay for Mortality Risk Reductions from Electric Power Generation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 33(3), pages 371-398, March.
    25. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
    26. Anna Alberini & Aline Chiabai & Margherita Turvani & Stefania Tonin, 2006. "Public Support for Policies Addressing Contaminated Sites: Evidence From a Survey of the Italian Public," ERSA conference papers ersa06p651, European Regional Science Association.
    27. Kip Viscusi, W. & Magat, Wesley A. & Huber, Joel, 1991. "Pricing environmental health risks: survey assessments of risk-risk and risk-dollar trade-offs for chronic bronchitis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 32-51, July.
    28. Ted Gayer & James T. Hamilton & W. Kip Viscusi, 2000. "Private Values Of Risk Tradeoffs At Superfund Sites: Housing Market Evidence On Learning About Risk," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 439-451, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Powers, Michael R. & Shubik, Martin, 2001. "Toward a theory of reinsurance and retrocession," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 271-290, October.
    2. Stefanescu, Razvan & Dumitriu, Ramona, 2015. "Alegerea soluţiilor pentru expunerile faţă de risc
      [Choosing solutions to risk exposures]
      ," MPRA Paper 65074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Miranda Sarmento, J.J., 2014. "Public private partnerships," Other publications TiSEM c7d4c978-234c-4f88-83ed-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Ermoliev, Y. & Ermolieva, T. & Fischer, G. & Makowski, M. & Nilsson, S. & Obersteiner, M., 2008. "Discounting, catastrophic risks management and vulnerability modeling," Mathematics and Computers in Simulation (MATCOM), Elsevier, vol. 79(4), pages 917-924.
    5. Ermoliev, Yuri M. & Ermolieva, Tatiana Y. & MacDonald, Gordon J. & Norkin, Vladimir I. & Amendola, Aniello, 2000. "A system approach to management of catastrophic risks," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 452-460, April.
    6. Jeffrey Czajkowski & Kevin M. Simmons, 2014. "Convective Storm Vulnerability: Quantifying the Role of Effective and Well-Enforced Building Codes in Minimizing Missouri Hail Property Damage," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 90(3), pages 482-508.
    7. Andrés Solimano, 2003. "Prevention and Insurance of Conflict and Terrorism: Issues and Evidence for Latin America," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 40(121), pages 617-625.
    8. Enjolras, Geoffroy & Kast, Robert, 2007. "Using participating and financial contracts to insure catastrophe risk: Implications for crop risk management," 101st Seminar, July 5-6, 2007, Berlin Germany 9268, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    9. Masuku, Micah B. & Raufu, M. O. & Malinga, Nokwanda G., 2015. "The Impact of Credit on Technical Efficiency Among Vegetable Farmers in Swaziland," Sustainable Agriculture Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 4(1).
    10. Ozlem Ozdemir & Andrea Morone, 2014. "An experimental investigation of insurance decisions in low probability and high loss risk situations," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer;Society for Economic Science with Heterogeneous Interacting Agents, vol. 9(1), pages 53-67, April.
    11. Skees, Jerry R., 2000. "A role for capital markets in natural disasters: a piece of the food security puzzle," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 365-378, June.
    12. Liu, Dan & Tsegai, Daniel W., 2011. "The New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS) and its implications for access to health care and medical expenditure: Evidence from rural China," Discussion Papers 116746, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    13. Levinson, David & Parthasarathi, Pavithra Kandadai, 2001. "Evaluation Methods for Measuring the Value of ITS Services and Benefits from Implementation: Part X Freeway Service Patrols," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt8nj1t4bg, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.

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