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

Informal Insurance in Social Networks

  • Francis Bloch
  • Garance Genicot

This paper studies informal insurance across networks of individuals. Two characteristics are fundamental to the model developed here: First, informal insurance is a bilateral activity, and rarely involves explicit arrangements across several people. Second, insurance is a social activity, and transfers are often based on norms. In the model studied here, only directly linked agents make transfers to each other, although they are aware of the (aggregate) transfers each makes to third parties. An insurance scheme for the network as a whole is an equilibrium of several interacting bilateral arrangements. This model serves as a starting point for investigating stable insurance networks, in which all agents actually have private incentives to abide by the ongoing insurance arrangement. The resulting analysis shows that network links have two distinct and possibly conflicting roles to play. First, they act as conduits for transfers, and in this way this make better insurance possible. Second, they act as conduits for information, and in this sense they affect the severity of punishments for noncompliance with the scheme. A principal task of this paper is to describe how these two forces interact, and in the process characterize stable networks. The concept of "sparse" networks, in which the removal of certain links increases the number of network components, is crucial in this characterization. As corollaries, we found that both "thickly connected" networks(such as the complete graph) and "thinly connected" networks (such as trees) are likely to be stable, whereas intermediate degrees of connectedness jeopardize stability. Finally, we study in more detail the notion of networks as conduits for transfers, by simply assuming a punishment structure (such as autarky) that is independent of the precise architecture of the tree. This allows us to isolate a bottleneck effect: the presence of certain key agents who act as bridges for several transfe

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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:
File Function: main text
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2005 Meeting Papers with number 156.

in new window

Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed005:156
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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. 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.
  2. Lippert, Steffen & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2011. "Networks of relations and Word-of-Mouth Communication," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 202-217, May.
  3. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
  4. Xavier Freixas & Bruno Parigi & Jean Charles Rochet, 1998. "Systemic risk, interbank relations and liquidity provision by the Central Bank," Economics Working Papers 440, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 1999.
  5. Conley, T.G. & Udry, C.R., 2000. "Learning about a New Technology: Pineapple in Ghana," Papers 817, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4392 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Posner, Richard A, 1980. "A Theory of Primitive Society, with Special Reference to Law," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 1-53, April.
  9. Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2006. "Solidarity Norms and Institutions in Village Societies: Static and Dynamic Considerations," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
  10. Giancarlo Spagnolo & Steffen Lippert, 2004. "Networks of Relations," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 496, Econometric Society.
  11. Farrell, Joseph & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1986. "Partnerships," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt49d211x4, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  12. Tesfatsion, Leigh S., 1998. "Gale-Shapley Matching in an Evolutionary Trade Network Game," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1230, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  13. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Winters, Paul C. & Murgai, Rinku, 2000. "Localized and Incomplete Mutual Insurance," Working Papers 12905, University of New England, School of Economics.
  14. Fafchamps, Marcel, 1992. "Solidarity Networks in Preindustrial Societies: Rational Peasants with a Moral Economy," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 147-74, October.
  15. Vega-Redondo, Fernando, 2006. "Building up social capital in a changing world," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 2305-2338, November.
  16. Marcel Fafchamps & Flore Gubert, 2005. "The Formation of Risk Sharing Networks," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-037, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  17. De Weerdt, Joachim & Dercon, Stefan, 2006. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 337-356, December.
  18. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2006. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 869-902, October.
  19. Garance Genicot, Georgetown University and Debraj Ray, New York University and Instituto de An´alisis Econ´omico (CSIC), 2004. "Informal Insurance, Enforcement Constraints, and Group Formation," Working Papers gueconwpa~04-04-03, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  20. Weisbuch, Gerard & Kirman, Alan & Herreiner, Dorothea, 2000. "Market Organisation and Trading Relationships," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(463), pages 411-36, April.
  21. Goyal, Sanjeev & Joshi, Sumit, 2003. "Networks of collaboration in oligopoly," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-85, April.
  22. Narayana Kocherlakota, 2010. "Implications of Efficient Risk Sharing Without Commitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2053, David K. Levine.
  23. Rachel E. Kranton & Deborah F. Minehart, 1999. "Competition for Goods in Buyer-Seller Networks," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1232, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  24. Tesfatsion, Leigh, 1997. "A Trade Network Game with Endogenous Partner Selection," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1680, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  25. Yann Bramoullé & Rachel Kranon, 2005. "Risk-Sharing Networks," Cahiers de recherche 0526, CIRPEE.
  26. Marcel Fafchamps & Susan Lund, 2000. "Risk-Sharing Networks in Rural Philippines," Economics Series Working Papers 10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  27. Rachel E. Kranton & Deborah F. Minehart, 2001. "A Theory of Buyer-Seller Networks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 485-508, June.
  28. Garance Genicot & Debraj Ray, 2003. "Group Formation in Risk-Sharing Arrangements," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 87-113.
  29. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Tirole, Jean, 1996. "Interbank Lending and Systemic Risk," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 733-62, November.
  30. De Weerdt, Joachim, 2002. "Risk-Sharing and Endogenous Network Formation," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  31. Timothy Conley & Udry Christopher, 2001. "Social Learning Through Networks: The Adoption of New Agricultural Technologies in Ghana," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 668-673.
  32. Dutta, Bhaskar & Ray, Debraj, 1989. "A Concept of Egalitarianism under Participation Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 615-35, May.
  33. Kimball, Miles S, 1988. "Farmers' Cooperatives as Behavior Toward Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 224-32, March.
  34. Ping Wang & Alison Watts, 2006. "Formation of buyer-seller trade networks in a quality-differentiated product market," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(3), pages 971-1004, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed005:156. 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: (Christian Zimmermann)

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.