Revealed preference and self-insurance - Can we learn from the self-employed in Chile?
Financial sector development is a critical area of effective social protection policy. A well-regulated financial sector can complement government efforts to keep households from falling into poverty - by supplying the instruments needed to pool risks, or to self-insure against losses because of the death, or disability of a household member, unexpected loss of employment, or inability to work in old age. But many of the policy recommendations that can be drawn from the social risk management framework, rest on the strong assumption that risk, and time preferences are uniform across individuals, or households. Policies meant to encourage participation in public pension systems, and to reduce evasion where such systems are mandatory (by more closely aligning benefits with payroll contributions, or introducing individual retirement accounts) implicitly attempt to emulate the savings behavior of individuals, and households faced with fully functioning capital markets, and perfect information. If no allowance is made for variation in preferences, however, the welfare effects of policy reforms will vary across the target population. Mandated social security, even if actuarially fair for most, is likely to impose welfare losses on those less inclined to save, and insure. That said, a clearer picture of individual and household preferences, and how they vary across the population, can help governments design social security systems that complement private savings, and insurance instruments. The authors present the results of a field experiment, designed to produce an empirical measure of risk aversion, and time preferences of selected groups in Chile, which in 1981 pioneered social security reform with a transition to individual retirement accounts. The experiment was designed primarily to establish whether the time, and risk preferences of the self-employed differ significantly from those of wage, and salaried workers. They find no significant differences in mean risk, and time preferences between the self-employed, and employees, or between the contributing, and non-contributing employees. But they find significant differences in these preferences between the contributing, and non-contributing self-employed. Among the self-employed, those who are more patient choose to contribute to the pension system. However, the contributing self-employed are significantly more tolerant of risk than the non-contributing self-employed, a finding that conflicts with the assumption that the formal pension system is the only source of insurance against poverty in old age. The Chilean pension system may be viewed with some trepidation by its pool of potential clients. Since risk aversion declines with education, the participation of the economically active who are free to choose, could be enhanced by a campaign carefully designed to raise awareness, allay fears, and inform people of the benefits of saving for retirement in the formal pension system.
|Date of creation:||31 Jan 2002|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433|
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page: http://www.worldbank.org/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-758.
- Yamada, Gustavo, 1996. "Urban Informal Employment and Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 289-314, January.
- Gruber, Jonathan, 1997.
"The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 72-101, July.
- Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," NBER Working Papers 5053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Samwick, Andrew A., 1998. "Discount rate heterogeneity and social security reform," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 117-146, October.
- Andrew A. Samwick, 1997. "Discount Rate Heterogeneity and Social Security Reform," NBER Working Papers 6219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Poterba, James M, 1988. "Are Consumers Forward Looking? Evidence from Fiscal Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 413-418, May.
- Roope Uusitalo, 2001. "Homo entreprenaurus?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(13), pages 1631-1638.
- Roope Uusitalo, 1999. "Homo Entreprenaurus?," Discussion Papers 205, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
- White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
- Taylor, Mark P, 1996. "Earnings, Independence or Unemployment: Why Become Self-Employed?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(2), pages 253-266, May.
- Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
- Donkers, Bas & van Soest, Arthur, 1999. "Subjective measures of household preferences and financial decisions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 613-642, December.
- Donkers, A.C.D. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1997. "Subjective measures of household preferences and financial decisions," Discussion Paper 1997-70, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
- Robert Holzmann, 1997. "Pension Reform, Financial Market Development, and Economic Growth: Preliminary Evidence from Chile," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 44(2), pages 149-178, June.
- Robert Holzmann, 1996. "Pension Reform, Financial Market Development, and Economic Growth; Preliminary Evidence From Chile," IMF Working Papers 96/94, International Monetary Fund.
- Sebastian Edwards & Alejandra Cox Edwards, 2000. "Economic reforms and labour markets: policy issues and lessons from Chile," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 181-230, April.
- Sebastian Edwards & Alejandra Cox Edwards, 2000. "Economic Reforms and Labor Markets: Policy Issues and Lessons from Chile," NBER Working Papers 7646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
- Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Samuelson, William & Johnson, Stephen, 1988. "Consumption, Computation Mistakes, and Fiscal Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 408-412, May. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)