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Insurance makes wealth grow faster

Ole Peters and Alexander Adamou

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Abstract: Voluntary insurance contracts constitute a puzzle because they increase the expectation value of one party's wealth, whereas both parties must sign for such contracts to exist. Classically, the puzzle is resolved by introducing non-linear utility functions, which encode asymmetric risk preferences; or by assuming the parties have asymmetric information. Here we show the puzzle goes away if contracts are evaluated by their effect on the time-average growth rate of wealth. Our solution assumes only knowledge of wealth dynamics. Time averages and expectation values differ because wealth changes are non-ergodic. Our reasoning is generalisable: business happens when both parties grow faster.

Date: 2015-07, Revised 2017-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cta, nep-ias and nep-upt
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