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Beninese and Ethiopian Informal Insurance Groups: A Comparative Analysis

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Informal insurance groups have been created in many poor regions in response to a risky environment typical of developing countries. Drawing on original datasets from Benin and Ethiopia, this article provides empirical evidence describing the various forms these indigenous institutions take. While their principal role has been to provide indemnities for funeral expenses, they also cater for a wide range of shocks. The article finds striking resemblances in group structures and types of coverage offered, suggesting that households for whom the costs of formal insurance contracts are prohibitive tend to deal with risk in a comparable way. Dissimilarities may reflect different local household structures or the extent to which these groups are advertised and known to the public.

Keywords: Benin; Community-based insurance schemes; Ethiopia; Indigenous risk-sharing schemes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics, School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK ( )., Email:

Publication date: May 1, 2009


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