The effect of weather index insurance on social capital: Experimental evidence from Ethiopia

Halefom Nigus, Eleonora Nillesen & Pierre Mohnen


In this study, using data from lab-in-the-field experiment, we explore whether the introduction of weather index insurance crowds in or crowds out social capital in northern Ethiopia. We use contributions in the public good game as a measure of social capital. We find that weather index insurance crowds out social capital. The free-riding problem created by the positive externality of weather index insurance and development of self-sufficiency behaviour are found to be the causal mechanisms behind the crowding out phenomenon. Our results indicate that formal insurance mechanisms do not occur in a vacuum and may have unintended effects. Hence, this study suggests that novel insurance product design and marketing strategies should be used to ameliorate such unintended effects.

JEL Classification: C93, G22, H41, O17

Keywords: Weather index insurance; social capital; public good game; Ethiopia