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Insurance versus Savings for the Poor: Why One Should Offer Either Both or None

  • Landmann, Andreas

    ()

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Vollan, Björn

    ()

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Frölich, Markus

    ()

    (University of Mannheim)

This paper analyzes data from a novel field experiment designed to test the impact of two different insurance products and a secret saving device on solidarity in risk-sharing groups among rural villagers in the Philippines. Risk is simulated by a lottery. Risk-sharing is possible in solidarity groups of three and insurance is introduced via less risky lotteries. Our main hypothesis is that formal market-based products lead to lower voluntary transfers among network members. We also test for the persistence of this crowding-out of solidarity. We find evidence for a reduction of solidarity by insurance if shocks are observable. Depending on insurance design, there is also evidence for persistence of this effect even if insurance is removed. Simulations using our regression results show that the benefits of insurance are completely offset by the reduction in transfers. However, if secret saving is possible solidarity is very low in general and there is no crowding out effect of insurance. This suggests that introducing formal insurance is not as effective as it is hoped for when the monetary situation can be closely monitored, but that it might be a very important complement when savings inhibit observing financial resources. The implication for policy is that microsavings should be offered simultaneously with microinsurance.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6298.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6298
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  1. Cole, Shawn & Gine, Xavier & Tobacman, Jeremy & Topalova, Petia & Townsend, Robert & Vickery, James, 2010. "Barriers to household risk management : evidence from India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5504, The World Bank.
  2. Jeffery Carpenter & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2006. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from field labs in the developing world," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0616, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Gin, Xavier & Yang, Dean, 2009. "Insurance, credit, and technology adoption: Field experimental evidencefrom Malawi," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 1-11, May.
  4. Gubert, Flore & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2007. "The Formation of Risk Sharing Networks," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4392, Paris Dauphine University.
  5. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-92, January.
  6. Abigail Barr & Garance Genicot, 2007. "Risk Sharing, Commitment and Information: An experimental analysis," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2007-17, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Seiro ITO & Hisaki KONO, 2010. "Why Is The Take-Up Of Microinsurance So Low? Evidence From A Health Insurance Scheme In India," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 48(1), pages 74-101.
  8. Hoff, Karla & Sen, Arijit, 2005. "The kin system as a poverty trap?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3575, The World Bank.
  9. Marcel Fafchamps & Susan Lund, 2000. "Risk-Sharing Networks in Rural Philippines," Economics Series Working Papers 10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  10. Marcel Fafchamps & Margherita Comola, 2010. "Are Gifts and Loans between Households Voluntary?," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2010-20, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  11. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
  12. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  13. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
  14. Nadja Trhal & Ralf Radermacher, 2006. "Bad luck vs. self-inflicted neediness – An experimental investigation of gift giving in a solidarity game," Working Paper Series in Economics 28, University of Cologne, Department of Economics, revised 07 Mar 2008.
  15. Emily Breza & Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Horacio Larreguy, 2014. "Social Structure and Institutional Design: Evidence from a Lab Experiment in the Field," NBER Working Papers 20309, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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