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

Productivity and Technical Efficiency in the Italian Insurance Industry

Listed author(s):
  • J. David Cummins
  • Giuseppe Turchetti

The purpose of this paper is to partially fill the gap in the existing literature by conducting an analysis of technical efficiency and productivity growth in the Italian insurance industry. The analysis makes use of a detailed data base on Italian life and non-life insurance companies over the period 1985-1993, provided by the Associazione Nazaionale fra le Impress Assicurazioni, the association of insurance companies. The authors measure technical efficiency, changes in technical efficiency over time, and technical changes over time for a sample of Italian insurers, and use the results to test hypotheses regarding industrial organization and to analyze trends associated with structural developments in the market. Data development analysis (DEA) is used to estimate product frontiers for each year of the sample. A production frontier gives the minimum inputs required to produce any given output vector. An important reason for conducting the analysis presented is to provide benchmark statistics to facilitate comparisons of efficiency and productivity under the new European regulatory regime when data on more recent periods become available. In addition, the production frontier results are used to test hypotheses about two major issues in industrial organization - the coexistence of alternative product distribution systems, and organizational forms in an industry. The results indicated that technical efficiency in the Italian insurance industry ranged from 70 to 78 percent during the sample period. There was almost no efficiency change over the sample period. However, productivity declined significantly over the sample period, with a cumulative decline of about 25 percent. The decline was attributable almost exclusively to technological regress, implying that insurers needed more inputs to produce their outputs at the end of the sample period that they did at the beginning. Although improvement in both technical efficiency and technical change appear to be needed, the main problem at present appears to be the adverse shift in the production frontier. Although the sources of the technical regress characterizing the Italian industry are not entirely clear, this phenomenon has been observed in at least one other financial services industry that experienced deregulation and growth in new products and distribution systems - the Spanish savings banks. In a dynamically changing environment, many insurers may be adopting new approaches to producing their outputs. This provides more opportunities for firms to make mistakes in the choice of technology, perhaps leading to excessive consumption of inputs even by "best practice" firms. An increase in the complexity of insurance products and markets could have a similar effect. As firms become more experienced at operating in the new environment and the initial false-starts in the adoption of new technology have been corrected, the productivity of the Italian insurance industry can be expected to improve. The increase in competition resulting from deregulation should reinforce this process, as firms that fail to improve are likely to be penalized the by the market.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania in its series Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers with number 96-10.

in new window

Date of creation: Mar 1996
Handle: RePEc:wop:pennin:96-10
Contact details of provider: Postal:
3301 Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall, 3620 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104.6367

Phone: 215.898.1279
Fax: 215.573.8757
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.:

in new window

  1. Loretta J. Mester, 1989. "Testing for Expense Preference Behavior: Mutual versus Stock Savings and Loans," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(4), pages 483-498, Winter.
  2. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Agency Problems and Residual Claims," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 327-349, June.
  3. Andrew M. Yuengert, 1993. "The measurement of efficiency in life insurance estimates of a mixed normal-gamma error model," Research Paper 9308, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Gallant, A. Ronald, 1981. "On the bias in flexible functional forms and an essentially unbiased form : The fourier flexible form," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 211-245, February.
  5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  6. Ferrier, Gary D. & Lovell, C. A. Knox, 1990. "Measuring cost efficiency in banking : Econometric and linear programming evidence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1-2), pages 229-245.
  7. Allen N. Berger & David B. Humphrey, 1992. "Measurement and Efficiency Issues in Commercial Banking," NBER Chapters,in: Output Measurement in the Service Sectors, pages 245-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Marvel, Howard P, 1982. "Exclusive Dealing," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 1-25, April.
  9. F. Fecher & D. Kessler & S. Perelman & P. Pestieau, 1993. "Productive performance of the French insurance industry," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 77-93, June.
  10. Berger, Allen N & Cummins, J David & Weiss, Mary A, 1997. "The Coexistence of Multiple Distribution Systems for Financial Services: The Case of Property-Liability Insurance," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(4), pages 515-546, October.
  11. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-325, June.
  12. Ugur Muldur & Mohamed Sassenou, 1993. "Economies of scale and scope in French banking and savings institutions," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 51-72, June.
  13. Yuengert, Andrew M., 1993. "The measurement of efficiency in life insurance: Estimates of a mixed normal-gamma error model," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 483-496, April.
  14. Paul L. Joskow, 1973. "Cartels, Competition and Regulation in the Property-Liability Insurance Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(2), pages 375-427, Autumn.
  15. Berger, Allen N. & Hancock, Diana & Humphrey, David B., 1993. "Bank efficiency derived from the profit function," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 317-347, April.
  16. Mayers, David & Smith, Clifford W, Jr, 1988. "Ownership Structure across Lines of Property-Casualty Insurance," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(2), pages 351-378, October.
  17. Gardner, Lisa A. & Grace, Martin F., 1993. "X-Efficiency in the US life insurance industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 497-510, April.
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:wop:pennin:96-10. 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: (Thomas Krichel)

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.