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Robert M. Townsend, Ms. Shawn Cole, Mr. Jeremy Tobacman, Mr. Xavier Gine, Mr. James Ian Vickery, and Petia Topalova
Why do many households remain exposed to large exogenous sources of non-systematic income risk? We use a series of randomized field experiments in rural India to test the importance of price and non-price factors in the adoption of an innovative rainfall insurance product. Demand is significantly price sensitive, but widespread take-up would not be achieved even if the product offered a payout ratio comparable to U.S. insurance contracts. We present evidence suggesting that lack of trust, liquidity constraints and limited salience are significant non-price frictions that constrain demand. We suggest contract design improvements to mitigate these frictions.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

This paper presents an assessment of the shift in market risks to the household sector, which results from changes in the behavior of financial institutions and from pension reform. It focuses on household saving and asset allocation behavior and analyzes how such behavior may be affected by changes to household risk profiles. It examines the products and services that the financial industry has developed, or may need to develop, to help households meet these new challenges. The paper also discusses possible public policy initiatives on the promotion of a broader range of payout instruments and structures.