The role of commitment in dynamic contracts: Evidence from life insurance

Igal Hendel, Alessandro Lizzeri

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    We use data on life insurance contracts to study the properties of long-term contracts in a world where buyers cannot commit to a contract. The data are especially suited to test a theory of dynamic contracting since they include information on the entire profile of future premiums. All the patterns in the data fit the theoretical predictions of a model with symmetric learning and one-sided commitment aÌ la Harris and Holmstom. The lack of commitment by consumers shapes contracts in the way predicted by the theory: all contracts involve front-loading (prepayment) of premiums. Front-loading generates a partial lock-in of consumers; more front-loading is associated with lower lapsation. Moreover, contracts that are more front-loaded have a lower present value of premiums over the period of coverage. This is consistent with the idea that front-loading enhances consumer commitment and that more front-loaded contracts retain better risk pools.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)299-327
    Number of pages29
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
    Volume118
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2003

    Fingerprint

    Dynamic contracts
    Life insurance
    Premium
    Lock-in
    Insurance contract
    Present value
    Contracting
    Long-term contracts
    Prediction
    Buyers
    Prepayment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics

    Cite this

    The role of commitment in dynamic contracts : Evidence from life insurance. / Hendel, Igal; Lizzeri, Alessandro.

    In: Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 118, No. 1, 2003, p. 299-327.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Hendel, Igal ; Lizzeri, Alessandro. / The role of commitment in dynamic contracts : Evidence from life insurance. In: Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2003 ; Vol. 118, No. 1. pp. 299-327.
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