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Patterns of rainfall insurance participation in rural India

  • Xavier Giné
  • Robert Townsend
  • James Vickery

This paper describes the contract design and institutional features of an innovative rainfall insurance policy offered to smallholder farmers in rural India and presents preliminary evidence on the determinants of insurance participation. Insurance take-up is found to be decreasing in basis risk between insurance payouts and income fluctuations, higher among wealthy households, and lower among households that are credit constrained. These results match predictions of a simple neoclassical model appended with borrowing constraints. Other patterns are less consistent with the benchmark model. Namely, participation in village networks and measures of familiarity with the insurance vendor are strongly correlated with insurance take-up decisions, and risk averse households are found to be less, not more, likely to purchase insurance. We present evidence suggesting that these results reflect uncertainty about the product itself, given households' limited experience with it.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 302.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:302
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  1. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
  2. Townsend, R.M., 1991. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-3, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  3. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1727, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Lim, Y. & Townsend, R.M., 1997. "General Equilibrium Models of Financial Systems: Theory and Measurement in Village Economies," Papers 9716, Centro de Estudios Monetarios Y Financieros-.
  5. Jaap H. Abbring & Pierre-André Chiappori & Jean Pinquet, 2003. "Moral Hazard and Dynamic Insurance Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 767-820, 06.
  6. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  7. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  8. Gadgil, Sulochana & Seshagiri Rao, P. R. & Narahari Rao, K., 2002. "Use of climate information for farm-level decision making: rainfed groundnut in southern India," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 431-457, December.
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