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Insuring against droughts: evidence on agricultural intensification and index insurance demand from a randomized evaluation in rural Bangladesh

It is widely acknowledged that unmitigated risks provide a disincentive for otherwise optimal investments in modern farm inputs. Index insurance provides a means for managing risk without the burdens of asymmetric information and high transaction costs that plague traditional indemnity-based crop insurance programs. Yet many index insurance programs that have been piloted around the world have met with rather limited success, so the potential for insurance to foster more intensive agricultural production has yet to be realized. This study assesses both the demand for and the effectiveness of an innovative index insurance product designed to help smallholder farmers in Bangladesh manage risk to crop yields and the increased production costs associated with drought.

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