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Motivated by the emergence of new Peer-to-Peer insurance organizations that rethink how insurance is organized, we propose a theoretical model of decision-making in risk-sharing arrangements with risk heterogeneity and incomplete information about the risk distribution as core features. For these new, informal organisations, the available institutional solutions to heterogeneity (e.g., mandatory participation or price differentiation) are either impossible or undesirable. Hence, we need to understand the scope conditions under which individuals are motivated to participate in a bottom-up risk-sharing setting. The model puts forward participation as a utility maximizing alternative for agents with higher risk levels, who are more risk averse, are driven more by solidarity motives, and less susceptible to cost fluctuations. This basic micro-level model is used to simulate decision-making for agent populations in a dynamic, interdependent setting. Simulation results show that successful risk-sharing arrangements may work if participants are driven by motivations of solidarity or risk aversion, but this is less likely in populations more heterogeneous in risk, as the individual motivations can less often make up for the larger cost deficiencies. At the same time, more heterogeneous groups deal better with uncertainty and temporary cost fluctuations than more homogeneous populations do. In the latter, cascades following temporary peaks in support requests more often result in complete failure, while under full information about the risk distribution this would not have happened.
The fight against poverty is an urgent global challenge. Microinsurance is promoted as a valuable instrument for buffering income losses due to health or climate-related risks of low-income households in developing countries. However, apart from direct positive effects they can have unintended side effects when insured households lower their contribution to traditional arrangements where risk is shared through private monetary support.
RiskNetABM is an agent-based model that captures dynamics between income losses, insurance payments and informal risk-sharing. The model explicitly includes decisions about informal transfers. It can be used to assess the impact of insurance products and informal risk-sharing arrangements on the resilience of smallholders. Specifically, it allows to analyze whether and how economic needs (i.e. level of living costs) and characteristics of extreme events (i.e. frequency, intensity and type of shock) influence the ability of insurance and informal risk-sharing to buffer income shocks. Two types of behavior with regard to private monetary transfers are explicitly distinguished: (1) all households provide transfers whenever they can afford it and (2) insured households do not show solidarity with their uninsured peers.
The model is stylized and is not used to analyze a particular case study, but represents conditions from several regions with different risk contexts where informal risk-sharing networks between smallholder farmers are prevalent.