Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 97–109 | Cite as

Insurance demand and social comparison: An experimental analysis

  • Andreas Friedl
  • Katharina Lima de Miranda
  • Ulrich Schmidt


This paper analyzes whether social comparison can explain the low take-up of disaster insurance usually reported in field studies. We argue that risks in the case of disasters are highly correlated between subjects whereas risks for which high insurance take-up can be observed (e.g. extended warranties or cell phone insurance) are typically idiosyncratic. We set up a simple model with social reference points and show that in the presence of inequality aversion social comparison makes insurance indeed less attractive if risks are correlated. In addition we conducted a simple experiment which confirms these theoretical results. The average willingness to pay for insurance is significantly higher for idiosyncratic than for correlated risks.


Disaster insurance Social reference points Loss aversion Inequality aversion 

JEL Classification

C91 D03 D14 D81 G22 



We would like to thank Nicolas Treich, Stefan Trautmann and Ulrike Doerr for their helpful comments and Ute Vanini for her support in the execution of the experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Friedl
    • 1
  • Katharina Lima de Miranda
    • 2
  • Ulrich Schmidt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Kiel Institute for the World EconomyKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of KielKielGermany

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