Loss Aversion and the Demand for Index Insurance
80 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 19, 2019
This work analyzes if reference dependence and loss aversion can explain the puzzling low adoption rates of rainfall index insurance. We present a model that predicts the impact of loss aversion on index insurance demand to vary with different levels of insurance understanding. Index insurance demand of farmers who are unaware of the loss-hedging benefit that insurance provides decreases with loss aversion. In contrast, insurance demand of farmers who are aware of the loss-hedging benefit increases with loss aversion. The model further predicts that farmers who are unaware of the loss-hedging benefit will not demand an even highly subsidized index insurance. Using data from a randomized controlled trial involving a sample of Indian farmers we provide empirical support for our core conjecture that insurance understanding mitigates the negative impact of loss aversion on index insurance adoption.
Keywords: Prospect Theory, Reference Dependence, Microinsurance, Farm Household
JEL Classification: D91, G22, Q12
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