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Facilitating Consumer Learning in Insurance Markets - What Are the Welfare Effects?

  • Johan N. M. Lagerlöf

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)

  • Christoph Schottmüller

    (Department of Economics, Tilburg University)

What are the welfare effects of a policy that facilitates for insurance customers to privately and covertly learn about their accident risks? We endogenize the information structure in Stiglitz's classic monopoly insurance model. We first show that his results are robust: For a small information acquisition cost c, the consumer gathers information and the optimal contracts are close to the ones in the Stiglitz model. If c is so low that the consumer already gathers information (c c*, marginally reducing c hurts the insurer and weakly benefits the consumer. Paradoxically, a reduction in c that is "successful," meaning that the consumer gathers information after the reduction but not before it, can hurt both parties. The reasons for this are that, after the reduction, (i) the cost is actually incurred and (ii) the contracts can be more distorted.

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Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 13-12.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 11 Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1312
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  1. Doherty, Neil A. & Thistle, Paul D., 1996. "Adverse selection with endogenous information in insurance markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 83-102, December.
  2. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad, 1992. "Gathering Information before Signing a Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 566-78, June.
  3. Dezsö SZALAY, 2004. "Contracts with Endogenous Information," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 04.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  4. Leemore S. Dafny, 2010. "Are Health Insurance Markets Competitive?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1399-1431, September.
  5. Tom K. Lee, 1982. "Resource Information Policy and Federal Resource Leasing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 561-568, Autumn.
  6. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad, 1994. "Gathering information before the contract is offered: The case with two states of nature," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 675-682, April.
  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. Cremer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1998. "Strategic Information Gathering before a Contract Is Offered," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 163-200, July.
  9. Hector Chade & Edward Schlee, 2008. "Optimal Insurance with Adverse Selection," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002175, David K. Levine.
  10. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopoly, Non-linear Pricing and Imperfect Information: The Insurance Market," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 407-30, October.
  11. Craswell, Richard, 1988. "Precontractual Investigation as an Optimal Precaution Problem," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 401-36, June.
  12. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
  13. Hoy, Michael & Polborn, Mattias, 2000. "The value of genetic information in the life insurance market," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 235-252, November.
  14. Barzel, Yoram, 1977. "Some Fallacies in the Interpretation of Information Costs," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 291-307, October.
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