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Insurance demand and prospect theory

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  • Schmidt, Ulrich

Abstract

Empirical evidence has shown that people are unwilling to insure rare losses at subsidized premiums and at the same time take-up insurance for moderate risks at highly loaded premiums. This paper explores whether prospect theory, in particular diminishing sensitivity and loss aversion, can accommodate this evidence. A crucial factor for applying prospect theory to insurance problems is the choice of the reference point. We motivate and explore two possible reference points, state-dependent initial wealth and final wealth after buying full insurance. It turns out that particularly the latter reference point seems to provide a realistic explanation of the empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmidt, Ulrich, 2012. "Insurance demand and prospect theory," Kiel Working Papers 1750, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:1750
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    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/55277/1/684387875.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ulrich Schmidt & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2008. "Third-generation prospect theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 203-223, June.
    2. McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D & Coursey, Don L, 1993. "Insurance for Low-Probability Hazards: A Bimodal Response to Unlikely Events," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 95-116, August.
    3. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
    4. Han Bleichrodt & Jose Luis Pinto & Peter P. Wakker, 2001. "Making Descriptive Use of Prospect Theory to Improve the Prescriptive Use of Expected Utility," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(11), pages 1498-1514, November.
    5. Ganderton, Philip T. & Brookshire, David S. & McKee, Michael & Stewart, Steve & Thurston, Hale, 2000. "Buying Insurance for Disaster-Type Risks: Experimental Evidence," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 271-289, May.
    6. John C. Hershey & Paul J. H. Schoemaker, 1985. "Probability Versus Certainty Equivalence Methods in Utility Measurement: Are they Equivalent?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(10), pages 1213-1231, October.
    7. Howard Kunreuther & Mark Pauly, 2004. "Neglecting Disaster: Why Don't People Insure Against Large Losses?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 5-21, January.
    8. Morrison, Gwendolyn C, 2000. "The Endowment Effect and Expected Utility," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(2), pages 183-197, May.
    9. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    10. Kunreuther, Howard & Pauly, Mark, 2006. "Insurance Decision-Making and Market Behavior," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 1(2), pages 63-127, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Osberghaus, 2017. "Prospect theory, mitigation and adaptation to climate change," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(7), pages 909-930, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    insurance demand; prospect theory; flood insurance; diminishing sensitivity; loss aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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