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SESSION 14. Climate, Race, and the Measurement of Risk in Expanding Life Insurance Markets

14. Climate, Race, and the Measurement of Risk in Expanding Life Insurance Markets.

Sharon Ann Murphy (Providence College) sharon.murphy@providence.edu
Timothy Alborn (City University of New York)
Kathryn Olivarius (Stanford University).

ABSTRACT

This session will examine the challenges faced by Anglo-American life insurers as they attempted to expand their markets beyond the confines of their limited actuarial knowledge during the long nineteenth century. The industry’s success at convincing the public of the necessity of life insurance, as well as its continued need to attract new applicants, created a demand for policies that outpaced the statistics available for forming accurate mortality tables. Facing unfamiliar climates and disease environments, companies were forced to rely on a combination of imprecise statistics, racial and ethnic stereotypes, and guesswork in defining the premium rates and criteria for these new policies. The 3 papers in this panel explore

  1. the mid-nineteenth century expansion of northern insurers into the American Deep South,
  2. the sale of policies to soldiers, engineers, and civil servants engaged in the support of the British Empire, and
  3. the late-nineteenth-century expansion of US companies into underdeveloped markets in the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Europe.

THIS SESSION IS CLOSED FOR NEW PAPERS.

 

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