nep-ias New Economics Papers
on Insurance Economics
Issue of 2011‒03‒26
six papers chosen by
Soumitra K Mallick
Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management

  1. Deposit Insurance without Commitment: Wall St. versus Main St. By Russell Cooper; Hubert Kempf
  2. Unobservable savings, risk sharing and default in the financial system By Panetti, Ettore
  3. Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts in Latin America: Overview and Assessment By Ferrer, Ana; Riddell, Craig
  4. Measuring International Risk-Sharing: Theoretical Issues and Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries By Francesca Viani
  5. Redistributional Effects of the National Flood Insurance Program By Bin, Okmyung; Bishop, John A.; Kousky, Carolyn
  6. Valuing Mortality Risk Reductions: Progress and Challenges By Cropper, Maureen; Hammitt, James K.; Robinson, Lisa A.

  1. By: Russell Cooper; Hubert Kempf
    Abstract: This paper studies the provision of deposit insurance without commitment in an economy with heterogenous households. When households are identical, deposit insurance will be provided ex post to reap insurance gains. But the ex post provision of deposit insurance redistributes consumption when households differ in their claims on the banking system as well as in their tax obligations to finance the deposit insurance. Deposit insurance will not be provided ex post if it requires a (socially) undesirable redistribution of consumption which outweighs insurance gains.
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Panetti, Ettore
    Abstract: In the present paper, I analyze how unobservable savings affect risk sharing and bankruptcy decisions in the financial system. I extend the Diamond and Dybvig (1983) model of financial intermediation to an environment with heterogeneous intermediaries, aggregate uncertainty and agents' hidden borrowing and lending. I demonstrate three results. First, unobservability imposes a burden on financial intermediaries, that in equilibrium are not able to offer a banking contract that balances insurance and incentive motivations. Second, unobservable markets do induce default, but only as long as insurance markets are incomplete. Therefore, their presence is not a rationale for government intervention on bankruptcy via "resolution regimes". Third, even in case of complete markets the competitive equilibrium is inefficient, and a simple tier-1 capital ratio similar to the one proposed in the Basel III Accord implements the efficient allocation.
    Keywords: financial intermediation; hidden savings; bankruptcy; insurance; optimal regulation
    JEL: E44 G28 G21
    Date: 2011–02–10
  3. By: Ferrer, Ana (University of Calgary); Riddell, Craig (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
    Abstract: The unemployment protection systems that exist in most Latin American economies are generally considered inadequate in terms of providing insurance to workers. They may also encourage stratified labor markets and impose barriers to the employee’s mobility and the firm's adjustment to changing labor market conditions. In addition, some of these systems involve high administrative and monitoring costs and may create additional adverse effects that induce higher unemployment rates and longer duration of unemployment and promote informal labor markets. Recently, research effort and policy interest has turned to Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts (UISAs) as an alternative to traditional systems of unemployment insurance. UISAs are schemes of individual mandatory savings. Therefore, they smooth income over an individual's life cycle rather than pooling unemployment risk over the total working population at a point in time. This form of unemployment insurance diminishes the moral hazard problems associated with traditional insurance methods. However, it presents problems of its own. First, it is questionable that these systems provide adequate protection against unemployment risk. Additionally, their effects on the promotion of informal labor markets and their administrative costs are yet to be determined. Finally, the effectiveness as a form of unemployment insurance depends critically upon the performance and credibility of the financial institutions managing the funds. This paper examines the experience of Latin American countries that use UISAs, with the hope of highlighting the problems of the system and identifying areas for future theoretical and empirical work. The overall effect of UISAs depends on a vast array of specific country characteristics and program parameters. The way the system is implemented, existing labor regulation, the extent of the informal economy and the scope for collusive behavior greatly influence the success of these programs. This calls for a more extensive research effort in the area.
    Keywords: unemployment insurance, moral hazard, severance pay, Latin America, labor markets
    JEL: J65 J08
    Date: 2011–03
  4. By: Francesca Viani
    Abstract: Whether financial market integration raised global insurance is a crucial, still open issue. All empirical methods to measure cross-border risk-sharing are based on the implicit assumption that international prices do not fluctuate in response to business cycle shocks. This paper shows that these methods can be completely misleading in the presence of large fluctuations in international prices as those observed in the data. I then propose a new empirical method that is immune from this issue. The risk-sharing inefficiency between two countries is measured by the wedge between their Stochastic Discount Factors (SDFs). This measure is a proxy for the welfare losses created by imperfect insurance. Welfare losses can be attributed either to the strength of uninsurable shocks (the extent of risk to be pooled) or to the degree of insurance against different sources of risk. The method is applied to study the evolution of risk-sharing between the US and OECD countries, assuming either constant or time-varying risk-aversion. The degree of insurance is found to have improved over time only for some countries and only if SDFs are estimated assuming time-varying risk-aversion. The results are also informative on the implications of different macro models for international risk. When confronted with the data, standard open-macro models (featuring constant risk-aversion) imply that nominal exchange rate fluctuations do not contain wealth divergences across countries, but rather represent an important source of risk. Time-varying risk-aversion instead implies that limiting welfare losses from imperfect risk-sharing requires reducing the volatility of macro fundamentals.
    Date: 2011
  5. By: Bin, Okmyung; Bishop, John A.; Kousky, Carolyn (Resources for the Future)
    Abstract: This study examines the redistributional effects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) using a national database of premium, coverage, and claim payments at the county level between 1980 and 2006. Measuring progressivity as the departure from per capita county income proportionality we find that NFIP premiums are weakly regressive on an annual basis but become proportional as the time horizon is extended beyond a single year. In contrast, we find that NFIP claim payments are moderately progressive over all time horizons studied. In sum, we find no evidence that the NFIP disproportionally advantages richer counties.
    Keywords: NFIP, progressivity, departure from proportionality
    JEL: D31 G22 Q54 R38
    Date: 2011–03–14
  6. By: Cropper, Maureen (Resources for the Future); Hammitt, James K.; Robinson, Lisa A.
    Abstract: The value of mortality risk reduction is an important component of the benefits of environmental policies. In recent years, the number, scope, and quality of valuation studies have increased dramatically. Revealed preference studies of wage compensation for occupational risks, on which analysts have primarily relied, have benefited from improved data and statistical methods. Stated preference research has improved methodologically and expanded dramatically. Studies are now available for several health conditions associated with environmental causes, and researchers have explored many issues concerning the validity of the estimates. With the growing numbers of both types of studies, several meta-analyses have become available that provide insight into the results of both methods. Challenges remain, including better understanding of the persistently smaller estimates from stated preference than from wage differential studies and of how valuation depends on the individual’s age, health status, and characteristics of the illnesses most frequently associated with environmental causes.
    Keywords: value of a statistical life, mortality risk reduction, hedonic wage studies, stated preference studies
    JEL: Q50 Q51 Q58
    Date: 2011–03–17

This nep-ias issue is ©2011 by Soumitra K Mallick. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.