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Previous research has shown that the reasons for lapsation have important implications regarding the effects of the emerging life settlement market on consumer welfare. We present and empirically implement a dynamic discrete choice model of life insurance decisions to assess the importance of various factors in explaining life insurance lapsations. In order to explain some key features in the data, our model incorporates serially correlated unobservable state variables which we deal with using posterior distributions of the unobservables simulated from Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) method. We estimate the model using the life insurance holding information from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data. Counterfactual simulations using the estimates of our model suggest that a large fraction of life insurance lapsations are driven by i.i.d choice specific shocks, particularly when policyholders are relatively young. But as the remaining policyholders get older, the role of such i.i.d. shocks gets smaller, and more of their lapsations are driven either by income, health or bequest motive shocks. Income and health shocks are relatively more important than bequest motive shocks in explaining lapsations when policyholders are young, but as they age, the bequest motive shocks play a more important role. We also suggest the implications of these findings regarding the effects of the emerging life settlement market on consumer welfare. Download Paper
We study the effect of the life settlement market on the structure of long term contracts offered by the primary market for life insurance, as well as the effect on consumer welfare, using a dynamic model of life insurance with one sided commitment and bequest-driven lapsation. We show that the presence of life settlement affects the extent as well as the form of dynamic reclassification risk insurance in the equilibrium of the primary insurance market, and that the settlement market generally leads to lower consumer welfare. We also examine the primary insurers response to the settlement market when they can offer enriched contracts by specifying optimally chosen cash surrender values (CSVs). Download Paper