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Wealth Effects on Demand for Insurance


  • Aase, Knut K.

    () (Dept. of Finance and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)


A standard result states that under decreasing absolute risk aversion the indifference premium of the insured is a decreasing function of wealth. This has been interpreted to mean that insurance is an inferior good, which has been considered as a puzzle in insurance theory, in particular since the result does not seem to explain observed behavior in insurance markets. We reformulate the standard model of risk sharing to incorporate the amount invested in the insurable asset. From this we identify two wealth effects, one direct and one indirect. The direct one is explained by the classical result, and is negative when risk aversion is decreasing. The indirect effect is positive when the insurable asset is a normal good, and we find conditions when insurance is a normal good, and when it is not. The analysis is extended to Pareto optimal risk sharing, where we also analyze the joint problem of finding an optimal amount in the insurable asset, as well as a Pareto optimal insurance contract. In this latter case insurance turns out to be inelastic to changes in wealth of the insurance customer, provided the insurer’s reserves are held fixed, but a normal good if this assumption is relaxed.

Suggested Citation

  • Aase, Knut K., 2007. "Wealth Effects on Demand for Insurance," Discussion Papers 2007/6, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhhfms:2007_006

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dionne, Georges & Eeckhoudt, Louis, 1984. "Insurance and saving: some further results," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 101-110, April.
    2. Szpiro, George G, 1986. "Measuring Risk Aversion: An Alternative Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 156-159, February.
    3. Briys, Eric & Dionne, Georges & Eeckhoudt, Louis, 1989. "More on Insurance as a Giffen Good," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 415-420, December.
    4. Aase, Knut K., 1993. "Equilibrium in a Reinsurance Syndicate; Existence, Uniqueness and Characterization," ASTIN Bulletin: The Journal of the International Actuarial Association, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(02), pages 185-211, November.
    5. Hoy, Michael & Robson, Arthur J., 1981. "Insurance as a Giffen good," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 47-51.
    6. Raviv, Artur, 1979. "The Design of an Optimal Insurance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 84-96, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aase, Knut K., 2006. "Optimal Risk-Sharing and Deductables in Insurance," Discussion Papers 2006/24, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.

    More about this item


    The wealth effect in insurance; decreasing absolute risk aversion; inferior good; normal good; deductible; Pareto optimal risk exchange;

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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