A pinboard by
Anna Firsova

I am passionate about finding solutions to social problems through scientific research & cooperation


Policy and academic interest in the concept of the unconditional basic income is currently booming

Policy and academic interest in the concept of the unconditional basic income (BI) is currently on its peak.

Robotization and fast development of artificial intelligence linked with ever increasing world population (technological unemployment) and other reasons are responsible for the shrinking labour market. Many policy-makers and academic researcher see the BI as one of the main ways for fair distribution of benefits.

Has the idea of BI been tested? We know well that the developed countries such as Finland, the Netherlands and Italy have already had or about to have the pilot studies of the introduction of the BI per se or very similar schemes.

At the same time, the BI has also been tried in the developing countries: Kenia, Namibia and, in the near future, in India.

Such experiments are also surprisingly not new. In the 1970s there was a social experiment when in Manitoba, Canada some residents were eligible for the guaranteed annual income payments for three years, which proved to be beneficial.

So, are you keen to be receiving the BI or actually against it? It is argued that the BI solves the problem of poverty, reduces inequality and simplifies administration of welfare benefits. Opponents say that BI stimulates laziness, is too expensive and would dramatically increase immigration.

Academics: philosophers, pollical scientists and researchers in policy-making also find this idea ambivalent. While many such as Philippe Van Parijs argue that BI brings genuine liberation in the capitalist society, others argue against it, questioning moral foundations for BI, and exploring different exceptions such as a BI for children.

by Anna Firsova


After Piketty?

Abstract: In this paper, I take Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty as the starting point for a set of twelve policy proposals that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income towards less inequality. In designing the set of proposals, I draw on the experience of reducing inequality in postwar Europe and on an analysis as to how the economic circumstances are now different in the twenty-first century, highlighting the role of technical change and the rise in capital emphasized by Piketty. The proposed measures span many fields of policy, and are not confined to fiscal redistribution, encompassing science policy, competition policy, public employment, a guaranteed return on small savings, a capital endowment, as well as more progressive taxation of income and wealth transfers, and a participation income. Inequality is embedded in our social structure, and the search for a significant reduction requires us to examine all aspects of our society. I focus on inequality within countries, and what can be achieved by national governments, with the UK specifically in mind. The primary audience is those concerned with policy-making in national governments, but implementation should not be seen purely in these terms. There are different levels of government, and certain proposals, particularly those concerned with taxation, may only be feasible if pursued by a group of countries in collaboration. The last of the twelve proposals - for a basic income for children - is specifically directed at the European Union. Finally, actions by individuals as consumers, as workers, or as employers, can all contribute to reducing inequality.

Pub.: 18 Dec '14, Pinned: 21 May '17

"More Normal than Welfare": The Mincome Experiment, Stigma, and Community Experience.

Abstract: Cet article traite de l'impact d'une expérience sociale menée dans les années 1970, l'Expérience du revenu annuel de base du Manitoba (MINCOME). J'examine le lieu de "saturation" de la MINCOME, la ville de Dauphin au Manitoba, où tous les habitants étaient admissibles à des versements de revenus annuels garantis pendant trois ans. À partir d'archives de récits qualitatifs des participants je montre que la conception et le discours autour de la MINCOME ont amené les participants à voir les versements d'un oeil pragmatique, contrairement à la perspective moralisatrice qu'inspire le bien-être sociale. Conformément à la théorie existante cet article constate que la participation à la MINCOME n'a pas produit de stigmate social. Plus largement, cette étude discute de la faisabilité d'autres formes d'organisation socio-économique à travers une prise en compte des aspects moraux de la politique économique. La signification sociale de la MINCOME était suffisamment puissante pour que même les participants ayant des attitudes négatives à l'égard d'aides gouvernementales se sentirent capables de recevoir des versements de la MINCOME sans un sentiment de contradiction. En occultant les distinctions entre les "pauvres méritants" et les "pauvres non-méritants", les programmes universalistes de support économique peuvent affaiblir la stigmatisation sociale et augmenter la durabilité du programme. This paper examines the impact of a social experiment from the 1970s called the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment (Mincome). I examine Mincome's "saturation" site located in Dauphin, Manitoba, where all town residents were eligible for guaranteed annual income payments for three years. Drawing on archived qualitative participant accounts I show that the design and framing of Mincome led participants to view payments through a pragmatic lens, rather than the moralistic lens through which welfare is viewed. Consistent with prior theory, this paper finds that Mincome participation did not produce social stigma. More broadly, this paper bears on the feasibility of alternative forms of socioeconomic organization through a consideration of the moral aspects of economic policy. The social meaning of Mincome was sufficiently powerful that even participants with particularly negative attitudes toward government assistance felt able to collect Mincome payments without a sense of contradiction. By obscuring the distinctions between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, universalistic income maintenance programs may weaken social stigmatization and strengthen program sustainability.

Pub.: 20 Feb '16, Pinned: 21 May '17

Is there (or should there be) a right to basic income?

Abstract: A basic income is typically defined as an individual’s entitlement to receive a regular payment as a right, independent of other sources of income, employment or willingness to work, or living situation. In this article, we examine what it means for the state to institute a right to basic income. The normative literature on basic income has developed numerous arguments in support of basic income as an inextricable component of a just social order, but there exists little analysis about basic income within a jurisprudential or philosophical rights perspective. In our view, strong reasons of either a principled or a pragmatic nature in support of instituting a basic income scheme nevertheless often fall short of ascribing to basic income a distinctive Hohfeldian rights status. This article aims to partially redress this gap by examining two sets of questions. First, what are the implications – ethical and practical – of adopting basic income as a legal right as opposed to a mere policy? Second, we also enquire whether there should be such a right: what, if anything, is the ethical foundation that warrants granting basic income a distinctive legal rights status? This article suggests that any such foundation must be grounded in comparative evaluation and discusses several comparative strategies available to basic income advocates. The aim of this article is not to offer a definite argument in favor of a legal right to basic income, but to chart several lines of argument that a rights perspective might add to the contemporary discussion.

Pub.: 13 Oct '16, Pinned: 21 May '17

In Defense of a Democratic Productivist Welfare State

Abstract: In this article, I defend a democratic form of the productivist welfare state. I argue that this form of the state can best cope, theoretically and practically, with the diversity of deeply morally pluralistic democratic societies for two reasons. First, the justification of this form of the state rests solely on general facts about human nature, basic human needs, and efficiency considerations in a world of moderately scarce resources. Second, this state does not aim to promote a specific view of justice, but human flourishing more generally, expressed in terms of individual and collective productivity. The proposed democratic productivist welfare state supports its citizens up to the level that allows them to develop and exercise their talents and abilities without providing incentives for free riding. I argue that, under the specific empirical circumstances that I describe, in particular certain informational restrictions concerning the precise productive and destructive capacities of the members of society in practice and the soundness of the Aristotelian principle, this goal may best be achieved in practice by the introduction of an unconditional basic income at subsistence level, if society is sufficiently developed economically to provide such an income. On productivist grounds, such an unconditional subsistence income also addresses, pragmatically and partially, the problem of historical injustices against the weakest members of society and provides all group members with the means for democratic participation.

Pub.: 30 Nov '16, Pinned: 21 May '17