Does Finance Make Us Less Social?

Henrik Cronqvist, Mitch Warachka, and Fang (Frank) Yu

Informal risk sharing within social networks and formal financial contracts both enable households to manage risk. We find that financial contracting reduces participation in social networks. Specifically, increased crop insurance usage decreased local religious adherence and congregation membership in agricultural communities. Our identification utilizes the Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act of 1994 that doubled crop insurance usage nationally within a year, although changes in usage varied across counties. Difference-in-Difference and Spatial First Difference tests confirm that households substituted insurance for religiosity. This substitution was associated with reductions in crop diversification and crop yields, indicating an increase in moral hazard.