IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cdl/ucsbec/qt9sn8t91g.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Informal Risk Sharing in an Infinite-horizon Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Charness, Gary B
  • Genicot, Garance

Abstract

This paper presents the first laboratory study of risk-sharing without commitment. Our experiment captures the main features of a simple model of voluntary insurance between two agents. In the model, two individuals interact over a potential infinite horizon and suffer random income shocks. Risk-averse individuals have incentives to smooth consumption by making transfers to each other. These transfers being voluntary, only self-enforcing risk-sharing arrangements are possible: transfers can never be so large as to tempt individuals to renege on them. This constraint, when binding, has strong implications for the shape of the constrained optimal risk-sharing arrangement. In our experiment, participants are matched in pairs. Each period, one of them, randomly drawn, receives a given amount in addition to its regular income. After observing both incomes, each person in a pair chooses a non-negative transfer to make to the other person. Two features of the experimental design are crucial. First, it is common information that all pairs will be dissolved at the end of each period with a given probability. Participants are informed when this occurs and randomly re-matched. This replicates the effect of infinite-horizon and discounting in the model. Second, at the end of the experiment, a single period is randomly drawn to count for cash payment. This feature is essential for individuals to care about the utility outcome of each period. We find evidence generally consistent with risk sharing, with most transfers coming from individuals who received h in the period. Moreover, in support of the theory, transfers are much higher with a higher continuation probability and they also are highly correlated with the individual’s degree of risk aversion. However, while the model predicts an increase in transfers with ex ante inequality, we observe the opposite effect. This may reflect considerations of identity or group membership.

Suggested Citation

  • Charness, Gary B & Genicot, Garance, 2008. "Informal Risk Sharing in an Infinite-horizon Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt9sn8t91g, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt9sn8t91g
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/9sn8t91g.pdf;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1997. "Informal Insurance Arrangements in Village Economies," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 97/08, Department of Economics, Keele University, revised Oct 2000.
    3. Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
    4. John Bone & John Hey & John Suckling, 2004. "A Simple Risk-Sharing Experiment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 23-38, January.
    5. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
    6. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 2000. "In Sickness and in Health: Risk Sharing within Households in Rural Ethiopia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 688-727, August.
    7. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
    8. Reinhard Selten & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Klaus Abbink, 1999. "Money Does Not Induce Risk Neutral Behavior, but Binary Lotteries Do even Worse," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 213-252, June.
    9. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2002. "Informal Insurance Arrangements with Limited Commitment: Theory and Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 209-244.
    10. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 2002. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 51-70, March.
    11. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
    12. Dubois, Pierre & Ligon, Ethan, 2011. "Incentives and nutrition for rotten kids: intrahousehold food allocation in the Philippines," CUDARE Working Papers 120421, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    13. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(4), pages 595-609.
    14. Masaki Aoyagi & Guillaume R. Frechette, 2004. "Collusion in Repeated Games with Imperfect Public Monitoring," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000127, UCLA Department of Economics.
    15. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Are the poor less well insured? Evidence on vulnerability to income risk in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 61-81, February.
    16. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    17. Cason, Timothy N., 1995. "Cheap talk price signaling in laboratory markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 183-204, June.
    18. John Duffy & Jack Ochs, 2004. "Cooperative Behavior and the Frequency of Social Interaction," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000108, UCLA Department of Economics.
    19. Kimball, Miles S, 1988. "Farmers' Cooperatives as Behavior Toward Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 224-232, March.
    20. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
    21. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-196, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt9sn8t91g. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/educsus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.