Imperfect Risk Sharing

Working Papers

Growing Apart: Declining Within- and Across-Locality Insurance in Rural China
with C. Mommaerts, C. Meghir, and Y. Zhen (September 2021, CEPER Working Paper No. DP16654)

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Abstract: We consider risk sharing in rural China during rapid economic transformation from the late 1980s through the late 2000s. We document an erosion of consumption insurance against both household-level idiosyncratic and village-level aggregate income shocks, and show that this decline is related to observable economic changes: the shift from agriculture to wage employment, the decline of publicly owned Township-and-Village Enterprises, and increased migrant work. Further evidence suggests that as these changes took place at the village level, higher levels of government failed to offset these effects through the tax-and-transfer system, leaving households more exposed to both idiosyncratic and village-aggregate shocks.

Insurance in Extended Family Networks
with C. Meghir and C. Mommaerts (July 2018, NBER Working Paper No. 21059)

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Abstract: We investigate partial insurance and group risk sharing in extended family networks. Our approach is based on decomposing income shocks into group aggregate and idiosyncratic components, allowing us to measure the extent to which each component is insured. We apply our framework to extended family networks in the United States by exploiting the unique intergenerational structure of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We find that over 60% of shocks to household income are potentially insurable within extended family networks. However, we find little evidence that the extended family provides insurance for such idiosyncratic shocks.

Publications

Consumption Insurance in Networks with Asymmetric Information
with S. Krutikova (July 2020, Journal of European Economic Association)

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Abstract: This paper uses a dataset from Tanzania with information on consumption, income, and income shocks within and across family networks. Crucially and uniquely, it also contains data on the degree of information existing between each pair of households within family networks. We use these data to construct a novel measure of the quality of information both at the level of household pairs and at the level of the network. We also note that the individual level measures can be interpreted as measures of network centrality. We study risk sharing within these networks and explore whether the rejection of perfect risk sharing that we observe can be related to our measures of information quality. We show that households within family networks with better information are less vulnerable to idiosyncratic shocks. Furthermore, we show that more central households within networks are less vulnerable to idiosyncratic shocks. These results have important implications for the characterisation of the empirical failure of the perfect risk-sharing hypothesis and point to the importance of information frictions.

Work in Progress

Self-Help Groups, Risk Sharing and Commitment Constraints
with A. Kochar, A. Mahajan, and V. Surendra (in Progress)

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Abstract: Available soon.

Stick and Carrots in Mexican Villages: Imperfect enforceability and subjective expectations
(in Progress)

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Abstract: Available soon.

Risk Sharing and Insurance in Chinese Villages
with C. Mommaerts, C. Meghir, and Y. Zhen (in Progress)

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Abstract: Available soon.

Risk Sharing in Networks with Imperfect Information
with S. Krutikova, P. Millan, and A. de Paula (in Progress)

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Abstract: Available soon.