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Risk Pooling, Commitment and Information: An experimental test of two fundamental assumptions

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  • Abigail Barr

    () (Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford)

Abstract

This paper presents rigorous and direct tests of two assumptions relating to limited commitment and asymmetric information that underpin current models of risk pooling. A specially designed economic experiment involving 678 subjects across 23 Zimbabwean villages is used to solve the problems of observability and quantification that have frustrated previous attempts to conduct such tests. I find that more extrinsic commitment is associated with more risk pooling, but that more information is associated with less risk pooling. The first of these results accords with our expectations and assumptions. The second does not. I offer two explanations as to the origin of the second result and discuss their implications for how we view the assumptions made elsewhere in the literature. I also conduct a test of the relevance or external validity of the experimental results to our understanding of real risk pooling behaviour. In four out of the five villages for which the test could be conducted the networks of risk pooling contracts constructed during the experiment and the networks existing in real life were significantly correlated.

Suggested Citation

  • Abigail Barr, 2003. "Risk Pooling, Commitment and Information: An experimental test of two fundamental assumptions," Working Papers 2082, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:wpaper:2082
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Chong & Hugo Ñopo & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2008. "Hasta que punto los latinoamericanos conf'ian y cooperan? Experimentos de campo sobre exclusión social en seis países de América Latina," Research Department Publications 4578, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Experiments and Economic Development: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0505, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    3. Jim Engle-Warnick & Sonia Laszlo, 2017. "Learning-by-doing in an ambiguous environment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 55(1), pages 71-94, August.
    4. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2008. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 311-338.
    5. Vanessa Ríos & Alberto E. Chong & Hugo R. Ñopo, 2009. "Do Welfare Programs Damage Interpersonal Trust?: Experimental Evidence from Representative Samples for Four Latin American Cities," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1639, Inter-American Development Bank.
    6. A. Chaudhuri & L. Gangadharan & Pushkar Maitra, 2005. "An Experimental Analysis ofGroup Size and Risk Sharing," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 955, The University of Melbourne.
    7. Jonathan Robinson, 2012. "Limited Insurance within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 140-164, October.
    8. Jim Engle-Warnick & Javier Escobal & Sonia Laszlo, 2006. "The Effect Of An Additional Alternative On Measured Risk Preferences In A Laboratory Experiment In Peru," Departmental Working Papers 2006-10, McGill University, Department of Economics.
    9. Alberto Chong & Hugo Ñopo & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2008. "To What Extent do Latin Americans Trust and Cooperate? Field Experiments on Social Exclusion In Six Latin American Countries," Research Department Publications 4577, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    10. Santos, Paulo & Barrett, Christopher B., 2006. "Informal Insurance in the Presence of Poverty Traps: Evidence from Southern Ethiopia," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25487, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    11. Jim Engle-Warnick & Javier Escobal & Sonia Laszlo, 2005. "The Effect of an Additional Alternative on Measured Risk Preferences in a Field Experiment," Experimental 0511003, EconWPA.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Field experiment; Asymmetric information; Limited commitment; Villages; Economic development; Risk; Insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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