Report

Basic income: a radical idea enters the mainstream

18 Nov 2016
Description

A universal basic income (UBI) is a payment made to all adult individuals that allows people to meet their basic needs. Debates over basic income proposals have moved from the fringe to mainstream newspapers.

Executive summary

  • A universal basic income (UBI) is a payment made to all adult individuals that allows people to meet their basic needs. It is made without any work or activity tests.
  • The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) is not new but until recently had been pushed to the fringes of policy debate.
  • UBI has returned to the policy agenda as the result of concerns about technological change. Some commentators argue that new technology will permanently reduce the demand for labour leading to job losses, stagnant incomes and worsening inequality.
  • There are a number of different UBI models. These range from more modest schemes designed to simplify the existing social security system all the way to utopian plans to transform society. This paper illustrates the range by discussing a few of the many proposals made over the past century.
  • There are a number of common objections to UBI proposals. These include scepticism about the idea technological change will lead to widespread job destruction, concern about the high cost of a UBI, concern about the likely impact of a UBI on the economy, and concern that a UBI will undermine social solidarity and support for the social contract.
  • Even if there little prospect of a UBI being introduced in the near future, debating UBI proposals helps draw out and clarify the differences in values and vision that shape social and economic policy.
Publication Details
Identifiers: 
ISSN: 
2203-5249
Published year only: 
2016
5010
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