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A Theory of Rational Demand for Index Insurance


  • Daniel J. Clarke


Rational demand for hedging products, where there is a risk of contractual nonperformance, is fundamentally different to that for indemnity insurance. In particular, optimal demand is zero for infinitely risk averse individuals, and is nonmonotonic in risk aversion, wealth and price. For commonly used families of utility functions, demand is hump-shaped in the degree of risk aversion when the price is actuarially unfair, first increasing then decreasing, and either decreasing or decreasing-increasing-decreasing in risk aversion when the price is actuarially favourable. For a given belief, upper bound are derived for the optimal demand from risk averse and decreasing absolute risk averse decision makers. The apparently low level of demand for consumer hedging instruments, particularly from the most risk averse, is explained as a rational response to deadweight costs and the risk of countractual nonperformance. A numerical example is presented for maize in a developing county which suggests that some unsubsidised weather derivatives, currently being designed for and marketed to poor farmers, may in fact be poor products, in that objective financial advice would recommend low or zero purchase from all risk averse expected utility maximisers.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel J. Clarke, 2011. "A Theory of Rational Demand for Index Insurance," Economics Series Working Papers 572, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:572

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shawn Cole & Xavier Gine & Jeremy Tobacman & Petia Topalova & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2013. "Barriers to Household Risk Management: Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 104-135, January.
    2. Daniel J. Clarke, 2011. "Reinsuring the Poor: Group Microinsurance Design and Costly State Verification," Economics Series Working Papers 573, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item


    Index insurance; Derivative; Basis risk; Hedge; Microinsurance;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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