nep-ias New Economics Papers
on Insurance Economics
Issue of 2012‒12‒15
six papers chosen by
Soumitra K Mallick
Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management

  1. The value of customized insurance for farmers in rural Bangladesh: By Clarke, Danielle; Das, Narayan C.; de Nicola, Francesca; Hill, Ruth Vargas; Kumar, Neha; Mehta, Parendi
  2. Insurer Information, Insiders and Initial Public Offering By M. Martin Boyer
  3. Political Contributions and Insurance By Bryan Engelhardt; Justin Svec
  4. Narrow Framing and Life Insurance By Daniel Gottlieb; Kent Smetters
  5. Analyzing the Effects of Insuring Health Risks: On the Trade-off between Short Run Insurance Benefits vs. Long Run Incentive Costs By Harold L. Cole; Soojin Kim; Dirk Krueger
  6. Informal unemployment insurance and labor market dynamics By Kyle F. Herkenhoff

  1. By: Clarke, Danielle; Das, Narayan C.; de Nicola, Francesca; Hill, Ruth Vargas; Kumar, Neha; Mehta, Parendi
    Abstract: Farmers in rural Bangladesh face multiple sources of uninsured risk to agricultural production and household assets. In this paper, we present results from an experimental demand-elicitation exercise in rural Bangladesh to shed light on smallholder farmers’ interest in formal insurance products. We propose a suite of insurance and savings products, and we randomly vary the price of one insurance option (area-yield insurance) and the presence of one of the savings options (group savings). Consistent with economic theory, farmers buy more of the insurance products that cover the risks they primarily face. However, because farmers are subject to a variety of risks, they do not focus on only one type of insurance; instead, they evenly split their endowment between life and disability insurance and agricultural insurance. Demand for area-yield insurance falls with price; we also observe important cross-price elasticities with other insurance products. The presence of group savings does not alter demand for insurance, though group savings is found to be a particularly popular risk management tool, especially when decisions are made in groups.
    Keywords: Risk, Insurance, demand, Elasticity, Decision-making, rural areas,
    Date: 2012
  2. By: M. Martin Boyer
    Abstract: This paper develops and tests hypotheses regarding the relationship between D&O insurance purchase and firm size, governance characteristics, and business risk, using a unique panel dataset on Canadian firms for years 1996-2005. The rich data permit examination of the determinants of insurance pricing, ownership, and coverage limits. The panel structure of the data also permits examination of the effects of insurance on corporate governance and earnings management. The paper adds to the literature by constructing empirical models motivated by theoretical considerations, controlling for firms’ self-selection into insurance, and accounting for industry and year effects. Results provide strong statistical evidence for the view that D&O insurance markets take corporate risk into account, but insurance reduces the deterrent effects of potential liability for mismanagement. The findings suggest that mandatory disclosure of D&O insurance, as required in Canada, is not sufficient to control the moral hazard effects of insurance ownership. <P>
    Keywords: Directors' and Officers' Insurance, Corporate Insurance and Risk Management, Board Compensation,
    Date: 2012–11–01
  3. By: Bryan Engelhardt (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross); Justin Svec (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)
    Abstract: We propose a mechanism that eliminates the incentive for risk-averse agents to influence government policy via political contributions. The mechanism requires the government to create a political insurance exchange where agents can insure against the outcome of a government decision and firms selling insurance announce and commit to a price of insurance and their political contributions. If the exchange contains actuarially fair priced insurance, then the agent fully insures and neither the firm nor agent lobbies the government. The exchange is better than contribution limits because it is welfare-enhancing, more fair, and does not restrict speech.
    Keywords: Campaign finance, complete markets, insurance, lobbying, political contributions
    JEL: D72 G22 M37
    Date: 2012–12
  4. By: Daniel Gottlieb; Kent Smetters
    Abstract: Life insurance is a large yet poorly understood industry. A final death benefit is not paid for a majority of policies. Insurers make money on customers that lapse their policies and lose money on customers that keep their coverage. Policy loads are inverted relative to the dynamic pattern consistent with reclassification risk insurance. As an industry, insurers lobby to ban secondary markets despite the liquidity provided. These (and other) stylized facts cannot easily be explained by information problems alone. We demonstrate that a simple model of narrow framing, where consumers do not fully account for their need for future liquidity when purchasing insurance, offers a simple and unified explanation.
    JEL: D03 G22
    Date: 2012–12
  5. By: Harold L. Cole; Soojin Kim; Dirk Krueger
    Abstract: This paper constructs a dynamic model of health insurance to evaluate the short- and long run effects of policies that prevent firms from conditioning wages on health conditions of their workers, and that prevent health insurance companies from charging individuals with adverse health conditions higher insurance premia. Our study is motivated by recent US legislation that has tightened regulations on wage discrimination against workers with poorer health status (Americans with Disability Act of 2009, ADA, and ADA Amendments Act of 2008, ADAAA) and that will prohibit health insurance companies from charging different premiums for workers of different health status starting in 2014 (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA). In the model, a trade-off arises between the static gains from better insurance against poor health induced by these policies and their adverse dynamic incentive effects on household efforts to lead a healthy life. Using household panel data from the PSID we estimate and calibrate the model and then use it to evaluate the static and dynamic consequences of no-wage discrimination and no-prior conditions laws for the evolution of the cross-sectional health and consumption distribution of a cohort of households, as well as ex-ante lifetime utility of a typical member of this cohort. In our quantitative analysis we find that although a combination of both policies is effective in providing full consumption insurance period by period, it is suboptimal to introduce both policies jointly since such policy innovation induces a more rapid deterioration of the cohort health distribution over time. This is due to the fact that combination of both laws severely undermines the incentives to lead healthier lives. The resulting negative effects on health outcomes in society more than offset the static gains from better consumption insurance so that expected discounted lifetime utility is lower under both policies, relative to only implementing wage nondiscrimination legislation.
    JEL: E61 H31 I18
    Date: 2012–11
  6. By: Kyle F. Herkenhoff
    Abstract: How do job losers use default -- a phenomenon 6x more prevalent than bankruptcy --as a type of “informal" unemployment insurance, and more importantly, what are the social costs and benefits of this behavior? To this end, I establish several new facts: (i) job loss is the main reason for default, not negative equity (ii) people default because they are credit constrained and cannot borrow more, and (iii) the value of debt payments is a significant fraction of a defaulter's earnings. Using these facts, I calibrate a general equilibrium model with a frictional labor market similar to Burdett and Mortensen (1998) and Menzio and Shi (2009, 2011) and individually priced debt along the lines of Eaton and Gersovitz (1981) and Chatterjee et al. (2007). After proving the existence of a Block Recursive Equilibrium, I find that the extra self- insurance job losers obtain by defaulting outweighs the subsequent increase in the cost of credit, and as a result, protectionist policies such as the Mortgage Servicer Settlement of 2012 or the CARD Act of 2009 improve overall welfare by .1%. The side effect of the policies, however, is a .2-.5% higher unemployment rate during recessions that persists throughout the recovery.
    Keywords: Unemployment ; Insurance ; Labor market
    Date: 2012

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