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Social Insurance, Information Revelation, and Lack of Commitment

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  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Luigi Iovino

Abstract

We study the optimal provision of insurance against unobservable idiosyncratic shocks in a setting in which a benevolent government cannot commit. A continuum of agents and the government play an infinitely repeated game. Actions of the government are constrained only by the threat of reverting to the worst perfect Bayesian equilibrium (PBE). We construct a recursive problem that characterizes the resource allocation and information revelation on the Pareto frontier of the set of PBE. We prove a version of the Revelation Principle and find an upper bound on the maximum number of messages that are needed to achieve the optimal allocation. Agents play mixed strategies over that message set to limit the amount of information transmitted to the government. The central feature of the optimal contract is that agents who enter the period with low implicitly-promised lifetime utilities reveal no information to the government and receive no insurance against current period shock, while agents with high promised utilities reveal precise information about their current shock and receive insurance as in economies with full commitment by the government.

Suggested Citation

  • Mikhail Golosov & Luigi Iovino, 2014. "Social Insurance, Information Revelation, and Lack of Commitment," NBER Working Papers 20633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20633
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    1. repec:bla:jpbect:v:21:y:2019:i:1:p:5-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Golosov, M. & Tsyvinski, A. & Werquin, N., 2016. "Recursive Contracts and Endogenously Incomplete Markets," Handbook of Macroeconomics,, Elsevier.
    3. Brendon, Charles & Ellison, Martin, 2018. "Time-consistently undominated policies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 87176, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Josef Schroth, 2016. "Supervising Financial Regulators," Staff Working Papers 16-52, Bank of Canada.
    5. Craig Brett & John A. Weymark, 2019. "Optimal nonlinear taxation of income and savings without commitment," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 21(1), pages 5-43, February.
    6. Laura Doval & Vasiliki Skreta, 2018. "Mechanism Design with Limited Commitment," Papers 1811.03579, arXiv.org, revised May 2019.
    7. Josef Schroth, 2015. "Risk Sharing in the Presence of a Public Good," Staff Working Papers 15-27, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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