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An Experimental Test of Risk-Sharing Arrangements

  • Garance Genicot
  • Gary Charness

We investigate risk sharing without commitment by designing an experiment to match a simple model of voluntary insurance between two agents when aggregate income is constant. Participants are matched in pairs. Each period, they receive their income with or without a random component h that one person receives; after observing own and counterpart income, each person in a pair can decide to make a transfer to the other person. It is common information that there is a given probability that all pairs will be dissolved at the end of each period, with participants re-matched. At the end of the experiment, one period is randomly drawn to count for cash payment. Participants all face the same variance in their income, but do not necessarily have the same mean income. This setting allows us to experimentally test different implications of risk sharing without commitment. In particular, we find strong evidence of risk sharing and reciprocal behavior, where transfers are higher with a higher continuation probability and with a higher degree of risk aversion. However, transfers are lower with inequality, in contrast with existing models of both risk sharing and social preferences.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2004 Meeting Papers with number 807.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:807
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  1. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
  2. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 2002. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 51-70, March.
  4. Stefan Dercon & Pramila Krishnan, 1997. "In sickness and in health... risk-sharing within households in rural Ethiopia," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1997-12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. John Bone & John Hey & John Suckling, 2004. "A Simple Risk-Sharing Experiment," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 23-38, January.
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  7. Townsend, R.M., 1991. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 91-3, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  8. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  9. Reinhard Selten & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Klaus Abbink, 1999. "Money Does Not Induce Risk Neutral Behavior, but Binary Lotteries Do even Worse," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 46(3), pages 213-252, June.
  10. Cason, Timothy N., 1995. "Cheap talk price signaling in laboratory markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 183-204, June.
  11. Kletzer, Kenneth M. & Wright, Brian D., 1998. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt4qg3c42v, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  12. Gary Charness & Nuno Garoupa, 2000. "Reputation, Honesty, and Efficiency with Insider Information: an Experiment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 425-451, 06.
  13. Camerer, Colin F & Ho, Teck-Hua, 1994. "Violations of the Betweenness Axiom and Nonlinearity in Probability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 167-96, March.
  14. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  15. Abigail Barr & Garance Genicot, 2007. "Risk Sharing, Commitment and Information: An experimental analysis," CSAE Working Paper Series 2007-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  16. repec:cdl:agrebk:2221195 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Garance Genicot & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Group Formation in Risk-Sharing Arrangements," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 87-113.
  18. Kocherlakota, Narayana R, 1996. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing without Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 595-609, October.
  19. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  20. Dubois, Pierre & Ligon, Ethan A., 2011. "Incentives and nutrition for rotten kids: intrahousehold food allocation in the Philippines," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1114, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
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