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An alternative unifying measure of welfare gains from risk-sharing

  • Auffret, Philippe
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    Following Lucas's (1987) standard approach, welfare gains from international risk-sharing have been measured as the percentage increase in consumption levels that leaves individuals indifferent between, autarky and risk-sharing. The author proposes to measure welfare gains as the increase in consumption growth, instead of consumption levels. When the consumption process is non-stationary, the author's proposed measure has several attractive features: it does not depend on the horizon, and it is robust to alternative specifications of the consumption stochastic processes (from geometric Brownian processes, to Orstein-Ulhenbeck mean-reverting processes), and preferences (from constant relative risk aversion preferences to Kreps-Porteus preferences). The author then uses this measure to estimate potential welfare gains from international risk-sharing for a representative U.S. consumer. The author finds that if international risk-sharing leads only to a complete elimination of aggregate consumption volatility (with no impact on consumption growth), it represents gains to a U.S. consumer of only $ 12 a year on average. But if international risk-sharing also permits an increase in consumption growth, it may have a sizable impact on welfare. Each 0.5 percentage point increase in consumption growth, represents gains to a U.S. consumer of about $ 160 a year on average.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2676.

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    Date of creation: 30 Sep 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2676
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    1. Merton, Robert C, 1975. "An Asymptotic Theory of Growth under Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 375-93, July.
    2. Tesar, Linda L., 1995. "Evaluating the gains from international risksharing," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 95-143, June.
    3. Bodie, Zvi & Merton, Robert C. & Samuelson, William F., 1992. "Labor supply flexibility and portfolio choice in a life cycle model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 427-449.
    4. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-57, August.
    5. Svensson, L.E.O., 1988. "Portfolio Choice With Non-Expected Utility In Continuous Time," Papers 423, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    6. Stefano Athanasoulis & Eric van Wincoop, 1997. "Growth uncertainty and risksharing," Staff Reports 30, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. Merton, Robert C, 1973. "An Intertemporal Capital Asset Pricing Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(5), pages 867-87, September.
    8. Harold L. Cole & Maurice Obstfeld, 1989. "Commodity Trade and International Risk Sharing: How Much Do Financial Markets Matter?," NBER Working Papers 3027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1992. "Risk-Taking, Global Diversification, and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1994. "Evaluating risky consumption paths: The role of intertemporal substitutability," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1471-1486, August.
    11. Karen K. Lewis, 1996. "Consumption, Stock Returns, and the Gains from International Risk-Sharing," NBER Working Papers 5410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    13. Robert J. Shiller & Stefano G. Athanasoulis, 1997. "World Income Components: Measuring and Exploiting International Risk Sharing Opportunities," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1097, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    14. Karen K. Lewis, 1999. "Trying to Explain Home Bias in Equities and Consumption," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(2), pages 571-608, June.
    15. Levy, Haim & Sarnat, Marshall, 1970. "International Diversification of Investment Portfolios," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 668-75, September.
    16. R. C. Merton, 1970. "Optimum Consumption and Portfolio Rules in a Continuous-time Model," Working papers 58, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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