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Network-Constrained Risk Sharing in Village Economies


  • Pau Milán


In this paper I investigate mutual insurance arrangements restricted on a social network. My approach solves for Pareto-optimal sharing rules in a situation where exchanges are limited within a given social network. I provide a formal description of the sharing rule between any pair of linked households as a function of their network position. I test the theory on a unique data set of indigenous villages in the Bolivian Amazon, during the years 2004 to 2009. I find that the observed exchanges across families match the network-based sharing rule, and that the theory can account for the deviation from full insurance observed in the data. I argue that this framework provides a reinterpretation of the standard risk sharing results, predicting household heterogeneity in response to income shocks. I show that this network-based variation in consumption behavior is borne out in the data, and that it can be interpreted economically in terms of consumption volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • Pau Milán, 2016. "Network-Constrained Risk Sharing in Village Economies," Working Papers 912, Barcelona School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:912

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    Cited by:

    1. Heath Henderson & Arnob Alam, 2022. "The structure of risk-sharing networks," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 62(2), pages 853-886, February.

    More about this item


    risk sharing; Networks; informal credit; mutual insurance; consumption smoothing; Tsimane; village economies; development;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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