IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Consumption Risk-sharing in Social Networks

  • Attila Ambrus
  • Markus Mobius
  • Adam Szeidl

We develop a model of informal risk-sharing in social networks, where relationships between individuals can be used as social collateral to enforce insurance payments. We characterize incentive compatible risk-sharing arrangements and obtain two results. (1) The degree of informal insurance is governed by the expansiveness of the network, measured by the number of connections that groups of agents have with the rest of the community, relative to group size. Two-dimensional networks, where people have connections in multiple directions, are sufficiently expansive to allow very good risk-sharing. We show that social networks in Peruvian villages satisfy this dimensionality property; thus, our model can explain Townsend's (1994) puzzling observation that village communities often exhibit close to full insurance. (2) In second-best arrangements, agents organize in endogenous "risk-sharing islands" in the network, where shocks are shared fully within, but imperfectly across islands. As a result, network based risk-sharing is local: socially closer agents insure each other more.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15719.

in new window

Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ambrus A, Mobius M, Szeidl A. Consumption Risk-sharing in Social Networks. American Economic Review. 2014;104(1):149-82.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15719
Note: LS
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Stefan Dercon & Joachim De Weerdt, 2002. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," CSAE Working Paper Series 2002-16, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  2. Ethan Ligon, 1998. "Risk Sharing and Information in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 847-864.
  3. Marcel Fafchamps & Flore Gubert, 2005. "The Formation of Risk Sharing Networks," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-037, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-91, May.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Stark, Oded, 1987. "Consumption Smoothing, Migration and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India," Bulletins 7515, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  7. Masao Ogaki & Qiang Zhang, 1998. "Decreasing Relative Risk Aversion and Tests of Risk Sharing," Working Papers 98-02, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  8. Dean Karlan & Markus Mobius & Tanya Rosenblat & Adam Szeidl, 2009. "Trust and Social Collateral," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1307-1361.
  9. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  10. Manuela Angelucci & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2009. "Indirect Effects of an Aid Program: How Do Cash Transfers Affect Ineligibles' Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 486-508, March.
  11. Francis Bloch (GREQAM and Universite de la Mediterranee), Garance Genicot (Georgetown University, and Debraj Ray (New York University and Instituto de Analisis Economico (CSIC)), 2004. "Informal Insurance in Social Networks," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-16, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  12. Maurizio Mazzocco, 2007. "Household Intertemporal Behaviour: A Collective Characterization and a Test of Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 857-895.
  13. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 2002. "Informal Insurance Arrangements with Limited Commitment: Theory and Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 209-244.
  14. Philippe Aghion & Pol Antràs & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Negotiating Free Trade," NBER Working Papers 10721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Christopher Udry, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526.
  16. Glenn Ellison, 1994. "Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma with Anonymous Random Matching," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 567-588.
  17. Fafchamps, Marcel & Lund, Susan, 2003. "Risk-sharing networks in rural Philippines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 261-287, August.
  18. Harounan Kazianga & Christopher Udry, 2004. "Consumption Smoothing? Livestock, Insurance and Drought in Rural Burkina Faso," Working Papers 898, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  19. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  20. Yann Bramoullé & Rachel Kranon, 2005. "Risk-Sharing Networks," Cahiers de recherche 0526, CIRPEE.
  21. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria II. Applications," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 13-29, June.
  22. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4392 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Armando Gomes, 2005. "Multilateral Contracting with Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1329-1350, 07.
  24. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-56, October.
  25. Coate, Stephen & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Reciprocity without commitment : Characterization and performance of informal insurance arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, February.
  26. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
  27. Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-51, September.
  28. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
  29. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Trade Expansion and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1293-1317, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Consumption Risk-Sharing in Social Networks (AER 2014) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15719. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.