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Athenia Bongani Sibindi ORCID logo


The life insurance sector may contribute to economic growth by its very mechanism of savings mobilisation and thereby performing an intermediation role in the economy. This ensures that capital is provided to deficient units who are in need of capital to finance their working capital requirements and invest in technology thereby resulting in an increase in output. In this way, it could be argued that life insurance development spurs financial development. In this article we investigate the causal relationship between the life insurance sector, financial development and economic growth in South Africa for the period 1990 to 2012. We make use of life insurance density as the proxy for life insurance development, real per capita growth domestic product as the proxy for economic growth and real broad money per capita as the proxy for financial development. We test for cointegration amongst the variables by applying the Johansen procedure and then proceed to test for Granger causality based on the vector error correction model (VECM). Our results confirm the existence of at least one cointegrating relationship amongst the variables. The results indicate that the direction of causality runs from the economy to the life insurance sector which is consistent with the “demand-following” insurance-growth hypothesis. There is also evidence of causality running from the economy to financial development which is consistent with the “demand following” finance-growth hypothesis. The results also reveal that life insurance complements economic growth in bringing about financial development further lending credence to the “complementarity” hypothesis.

Keywords: Life Insurance, Financial Development, Economic growth, Granger Causality, VECM, South Africa

How to cite this paper: Sibindi, A.B. (2014). Life insurance, financial development and economic growth in South Africa. Risk governance & control: financial markets & institutions, 4(3), 7-15.