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A Simple Test of Private Information in the Insurance Markets with Heterogeneous Insurance Demand

  • Li Gan
  • Feng Huang
  • Adalbert Mayer

A positive correlation between insurance coverage and ex post risk can be an indicator for private information in insurance markets. However, this test fails if agents have heterogeneous risk attitudes. We propose a new test that conditions on unobserved types of individuals who differ in their risks preferences. This makes it possible to detect asymmetric information without direct evidence of private information - even if agents have heterogeneous risk attitudes. We apply our technique to the market for long-term care insurance. Finkelstein and McGarry (2006) provide direct evidence for the existence of private information in this market. At the same time they fail to find a positive correlation between insurance coverage and ex post risk. Our method indicates the existence of private information, without using direct evidence of private information. Our methodology is applicable to other insurance markets and markets where proxies for private information are not available.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16738.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16738.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16738
Note: AG HC HE
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  1. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
  2. Tomas Philipson & John Cawley, 1999. "An Empirical Examination of Information Barriers to Trade in Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 827-846, September.
  3. Fang, Hanming & Keane, Michael & Silverman, Dan, 2006. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Working Papers 17, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  4. Alma Cohen, 2005. "Asymmetric Information and Learning: Evidence from the Automobile Insurance Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 197-207, May.
  5. Li Gan & Roberto Mosquera, 2008. "An Empirical Study of the Credit Market with Unobserved Consumer Typers," NBER Working Papers 13873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Smart, Michael, 2000. "Competitive Insurance Markets with Two Unobservables," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(1), pages 153-69, February.
  7. He, Daifeng, 2009. "The life insurance market: Asymmetric information revisited," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1090-1097, October.
  8. Christopher R. Knittel & Victor Stango, 2003. "Price Ceilings as Focal Points for Tacit Collusion: Evidence from Credit Cards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1703-1729, December.
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