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Economies of scale in European life insurance

Udo Klotzki (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)
Alexander Bohnert (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)
Nadine Gatzert (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)
Ulrike Vogelgesang (McKinsey & Company, Inc., Hamburg, Germany)

Journal of Risk Finance

ISSN: 1526-5943

Article publication date: 19 March 2018

618

Abstract

Purpose

Due to the continuing low interest rate environment as well as the increase in acquisition costs, price transparency, cost transparency and competition with banks, the cost of life insurance becomes increasingly important for customers, insurers and shareholders. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to study the development of insurers’ economies of scale in regard to administrative costs for four of the largest European life insurance markets.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis on economies of scale is based on a comprehensive set of 477 life insurers in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, yearly data between 2000 and 2014, and regression calculations that are based on 4,855 observations.

Findings

The results show that economies of scale exist for all considered markets and for most of the considered years. However, the extent of economies of scale varies considerably across countries.

Originality/value

Overall, the existing academic literature on costs and corresponding economies of scale in life insurance primarily deals with analyses of total costs instead of administrative costs, a single year or a single market. This paper contributes to the existing literature by conducting an analysis of recent market dynamics and economies of scale in regard to administrative costs for the period from 2000 and 2014 for four of the largest European life insurance markets for which the respective data were available (Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) and 477 life insurers in total. This is done by means of a log-log transformation of premiums and costs and a fixed effects model based on these transformed figures for 4,855 observations. In addition, for each market, the authors analyze the development of administrative costs for a total of 477 insurers.

Keywords

Citation

Klotzki, U., Bohnert, A., Gatzert, N. and Vogelgesang, U. (2018), "Economies of scale in European life insurance", Journal of Risk Finance, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 190-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRF-03-2017-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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