Essays on wealth, health, and data collection

One of the aims of social insurance programs is to provide a financial safety net to households when encountering adverse circumstances. However, apart from offering mere protection, a system of social insurance can also be designed with the aim to increase overall welfare. In order to make the appropriate design decisions one needs to understand how individuals react to both negative shocks, such as health and wealth shocks, and the system put in place to protect them from these shocks. For example, in order to determine appropriate levels of contributions and benefits in social insurance contracts, one needs to understand how individuals
prefer to move resources between different potential life outcomes and how consumption patterns are affected by negative shocks such as illness. Moreover, one needs to understand which (negative) behavior can be provoked by income protection and how such moral hazard can be counteracted by complementary efforts to income support. To gain understanding on such behavioral effects, access to high quality microdata is crucial. Innovations in data collection methods are thus key to a better
understanding of the workings of social insurance systems.

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