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An Experimental Test of Risk-Sharing Arrangements

We investigate risk-sharing without commitment by designing an experiment to match a simple model of voluntary insurance between two agents when aggregate income is constant. Participants are matched in pairs. Each period, they receive their income with or without a random component h that one person or the other receives; after observing own and counterpart income, each person in a pair can decide to make a transfer to the other person. It is common information that there is a given probability that all pairs will be dissolved at the end of each period, with participants re-matched. At the end of the experiment, one period is randomly drawn to count for cash payment. Participants all face the same variance in their income, but do not necessarily have the same mean income. This setting allows us to experimentally test different implications of risk-sharing without commitment. In particular, we find strong evidence of risk-sharing and reciprocal behavior, where transfers are higher with a higher continuation probability and with a higher degree of risk aversion. However, transfers are lower with inequality, in contrast with existing models of both risk-sharing and social preferences.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~04-04-02.

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Date of creation: 02 Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~04-04-02
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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  1. John Bone & John Hey & John Suckling, . "A Simple Risk-Sharing Experiment," Discussion Papers 00/36, Department of Economics, University of York.
  2. Gneezy, Uri & Potters, Jan, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-45, May.
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  6. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869, August.
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  9. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 1998. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," JCPR Working Papers 41, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  10. Abigail Barr & Garance Genicot, 2008. "Risk Sharing, Commitment, and Information: An Experimental Analysis," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1151-1185, December.
  11. Kocherlakota, Narayana R, 1996. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 595-609, October.
  12. 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.
  13. Dubois, Pierre & Ligon, Ethan A., 2011. "Incentives and nutrition for rotten kids: intrahousehold food allocation in the Philippines," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1114, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  14. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  15. Robert M. Townsend, . "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-3a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  16. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  17. Gary Charness & Nuno Garoupa, 2000. "Reputation, Honesty, and Efficiency with Insider Information: an Experiment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 425-451, 06.
  18. 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 167-96, March.
  19. Cason, Timothy N., 1995. "Cheap talk price signaling in laboratory markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 183-204, June.
  20. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
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