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Intergenerational Risk Sharing in Life Insurance: Evidence from France


  • J. Hombert
  • V. Lyonnet


We study intergenerational risk sharing in Euro-denominated life insurance contracts. These savings products represent 80% of the life insurance market in Europe. Using regulatory and survey data for the French market, which is €1.3 trillion large, we analyze the patterns of intergenerational redistribution implemented by these products. We show that contract returns are an order of magnitude less volatile than the return of assets underlying these contracts. Contract return smoothing is achieved using reserves that absorb fluctuations in asset returns and that generate intertemporal transfers across generations of investors. We estimate the average annual amount of intergenerational transfer at 1.4% of contract value, i.e., €17 billion or 0.8% of GDP. Finally, we provide evidence that smoothing makes contract returns predictable, but inflows react only weakly to these predictable returns.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Hombert & V. Lyonnet, 2017. "Intergenerational Risk Sharing in Life Insurance: Evidence from France," Débats économiques et financiers 30, Banque de France.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfr:decfin:30

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ralph Koijen & Motohiro Yogo, 2018. "The Fragility of Market Risk Insurance," NBER Working Papers 24182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Stéphane Loisel, 2014. "Reevaluation of the capital charge in insurance after a large shock: empirical and theoretical views," Post-Print hal-02013669, HAL.
    3. Aurélien Violon & Dominique Durant & Oana Toader, 2017. "The Impact of the Identification of GSIBs on their Business Model," Débats économiques et financiers 33, Banque de France.
    4. F. Borel-Mathurin & S. Loisel & J. Segers, 2017. "Reevaluation of the capital charge in insurance after a large shock: empirical and theoretical views," Débats économiques et financiers 32, Banque de France.

    More about this item


    Life insurance; intergenerational risk-sharing; euro contracts.;

    JEL classification:

    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies

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