Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2012

Perceptions of (Micro)Insurance in Southern Ghana: The Role of Information and Peer Effects

Lena Giesbert, Susan Steiner

December 2011

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


This article investigates the understandings and perceptions of (micro)insurance among low income people in southern Ghana, using evidence from four focus group discussions. It analyzes how the focus group participants think about various types of insurance – among them a micro life insurance product – and how their negative and/or positive evaluations have come about. The evidence indicates that (micro)insurance is mostly positively perceived by the participants of the focus group discussions. However, it is also found that many people’s image of insurance is based on incomplete (and sometimes erroneous) information, or even on intuition. In addition, the experiences or opinions of peers turn out to be critical in shaping an individual’s perception of insurance. These two factors potentially have a contagious effect, which can lead to unreasonably positive or overly negative ideas about (micro )insurance. Such ideas, in turn, can become detrimental to the further distribution of microinsurance.