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Concept and Unintended Consequences of Weather Index Insurance: The Case of Mexico

  • Fuchs, Alan

    ()

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Wolff, Hendrik

    ()

    (University of Washington)

Recently, Weather Index Insurance (WII) has received considerable attention as a tool to insure farmers against weather related risks, particularly in developing countries. Donor organizations, local governments, insurance companies, development economists as well as agricultural economists are discussing the costs and benefits of WII. While the literature on WII has mainly focused on many cases in Africa and Asia, in this article we analyze the WII program in Mexico, which is one of the largest WII programs worldwide. In this context we discuss potentially important spill-over effects on related markets which so far have not been considered in the academic literature. First, we argue that WII creates disincentives to invest in other non-insured crops leading to potential overspecialization and monoculture. Secondly, WII generates disincentives to invest in irrigation systems because farmers are insured only as long as production takes place on non-irrigated land. Third, in case of catastrophic events food prices can potentially inflate with indemnity payments at the expense of the uninsured poor. We also suggest that in Mexico the thresholds of the weather index be (continuously) re-calibrated in order to adjust for the development of drought resistant seeds. Finally, the index could relatively easily be extended to account for precipitation variances. We argue that these factors and spillover effects should be accounted for in cost benefit analysis of WII.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6234.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2011, 93 (2), 505–511
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6234
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  1. Vedenov, Dmitry V. & Barnett, Barry J., 2004. "Efficiency of Weather Derivatives as Primary Crop Insurance Instruments," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 29(03), December.
  2. Barnett, Barry J. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Skees, Jerry R., 2008. "Poverty Traps and Index-Based Risk Transfer Products," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1766-1785, October.
  3. Shawn Cole & Xavier Gine & Jeremy Tobacman & Petia Topalova & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2013. "Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 104-35, January.
  4. Olivier Mahul, 2001. "Optimal Insurance Against Climatic Experience," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 593-604.
  5. Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang & Li-An Zhou, 2009. "Microinsurance, Trust and Economic Development: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-034, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Gine, Xavier & Yang, Dean, 2007. "Insurance, credit, and technology adoption : field experimental evidence from Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4425, The World Bank.
  7. Takeshi Sakurai & Thomas Reardon, 1997. "Potential Demand for Drought Insurance in Burkina Faso and Its Determinants," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(4), pages 1193-1207.
  8. Barry J. Barnett & Olivier Mahul, 2007. "Weather Index Insurance for Agriculture and Rural Areas in Lower-Income Countries," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1241-1247.
  9. Xavier Giné & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2007. "Statistical Analysis of Rainfall Insurance Payouts in Southern India," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1248-1254.
  10. Jerry R. Skees, 1999. "Opportunities for Improved Efficiency in Risk Sharing Using Capital Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1228-1233.
  11. Sommarat Chantarat & Christopher B. Barrett & Andrew G. Mude & Calum G. Turvey, 2007. "Using Weather Index Insurance to Improve Drought Response for Famine Prevention," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1262-1268.
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