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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
Abstract: Real-libertarianism, as it is expressed in Philippe Van Parijs' recent monograph Real Freedom for All is characteristically committed to both self-ownership and 'solidarity’ with the infirm or handicapped. In this article it is argued that the conception of (real) freedom that is used to endorse self-ownership is inconsistent with the conception of (social) freedom or opportunity that is used to justify transfer payments to those with no or low earning capacity. The problem turns around the question whether one's freedom consists in the access one has to a share of the social product or in the measure of economic self-sufficiency one enjoys. Accordingly the role of private property in external resources as a condition for freedom is unclear: is it the basis of people's capacity for self-determination or is it the basis of people's bargaining power? Van Parijs' commitment to self-ownership suggests the former, his commitment to solidarity suggests the latter. A similar ambivalence is pointed out in his argument for a universal basic income, for which Real Freedom for All is so well-known.
Pub.: 01 Sep '98, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: Generating heated politics in South Africa is a proposal to introduce a universal basic income grant, known as “BIG”. The “gaps” in the existing system of social assistance grants have caught the attention of activists and politicians across the political spectrum. Most concur on the need to expand the system, but the issue of how its “gaps” should be closed is a matter of great political divergence. To cast light on the significance of these debates, I show how the system's “gaps” are more complicated than measurements of poverty and inequality may suggest. Following the social and economic relations that develop around social grants, my analysis foregrounds a tension in the existing assistance system. Social grants provide a critical source of income for recipients and their kin, assisting them to confront the challenging realities of current labor market conditions. At the same time, social grants act as conduits for historical forces to articulate with local conditions and reshape relationships between citizens, the state, and the market. This tension points to the ambiguity of the BIG proposal and of its potential to engender a larger transformation.
Pub.: 01 Jul '06, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: This article presents a Hegelian argument in favor of measures for reducing poverty that go beyond typical welfare policies. Most commentators argue that either (1) Hegel’s system must tolerate poverty (as part of the state preserving the autonomy of civil society), or (2) Hegel provides for the welfare of the poor through the civil-society institutions of the “corporations” and the “police.” According to Hegel’s dialectical method, however, the Hegelian state becomes “actual” to the extent that it “sublates” civil society—that is, to the extent that the state both preserves the elements of civil society that promote freedom and negates the elements that hinder freedom. This entails state action to eliminate poverty, even though Hegel also expresses concern over how welfare policies targeted at the poor may reinforce the poor’s subordination. In contrast with such policies, universal basic income is one public policy that can help the state sublate civil society in the fashion Hegel intends.
Pub.: 18 Aug '14, Pinned: 21 May '17
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
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
Abstract: Policy interest in the basic income (BI) proposal is booming, but remarkably little attention is spent on systematically examining political strategies to build robust enabling coalitions in favour of BI. This article reviews two thorny problems that affect the coalition‐building efforts of BI advocates: the problem of cheap political support suggests most BI support may be of little value to further its implementation, while the problem of persistent political division argues superficial agreement among committed BI advocates may mask persistent disagreement on which precise model to adopt. The article discusses the relevance of each of these problems for BI politics, employing both analytical arguments and brief illustrations taken from debates in various countries.
Pub.: 20 May '15, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: The number of long-term unemployed in Germany has stagnated at around one million for several years. Despite excellent labour market conditions, the long-term unemployment rate is well above the OECD average. Therefore, the “carrot and stick” principle of Hartz reforms is in clear need of further development. The author proposes an overall concept for preventing and reducing long-term unemployment and long-term basic income receipt. An important element is an activation strategy for the long-term unemployed and long-term basic income recipients that implies interim target setting and requires more and better trained case managers in the job centres.Jel codes: J31; J38
Pub.: 10 Aug '15, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: Authors: Jonathan Barrett Article URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10301763.2016.1240767?ai=9b1e&mi=83a2f6&af=R Citation: Labour & Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work Publication Date: 2016-10-07T12:04:13Z Journal: Labour & Industry
Pub.: 07 Oct '16, Pinned: 21 May '17
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
Abstract: A considerable number of studies have been conducted to measure and analyze the phenomenon of the non-take-up of social assistance. However, the homeless portion of this population has long remained outside the scope of this research, so that little is known about their non-take-up behavior. In this paper, we focus on this population using a French national survey and we derive measures for the non-take-up of French basic income support. Our findings indicate that there is a substantial rate of non-take-up among the homeless, but that this rate is lower than that for the general population: approximately 18% of eligible homeless persons do not claim benefits compared to 35% of the general population. Using a large set of variables, we investigate the determinants of non-take-up. We show that although some of these determinants are shared with the general population, as identified in the literature, the homeless population exhibits some particularities. Furthermore, our results also suggest that the poorest of the homeless have a larger non-take-up rate than other homeless.
Pub.: 07 Nov '16, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: Basic income advocates propose a model that they believe will dramatically improve on current welfare programmes by alleviating poverty, reducing involuntary unemployment and social exclusion, redistributing care work, achieving a better work–life balance, and so on. Whether these expected social effects materialise in practice critically depends on how the model is implemented, but on this topic the basic income debate remains largely silent. Few advocates explicitly consider questions of implementation, and those that do are typically dismissive of the administrative challenges of implementing a basic income and critical (even overtly hostile) towards bureaucracy. In this contribution we briefly examine (and rebut) several reasons that have led basic income advocates to ignore administration. The main peril of such neglect, we argue, is that it misleads basic income advocates into a form of Panglossian optimism that risks causing basic income advocacy to become self-defeating.
Pub.: 14 Dec '16, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: We suggest a weak version of differential monotonicity for redistribution rules: whenever the differential of two persons’ income weakly increases, then their post-redistribution rewards essentially change in the same direction. Together with efficiency, non-negativity, and the average property, weak differential monotonicity characterizes redistribution via taxation at a fixed rate and equal distribution of the total tax revenue, i.e., a flat tax and a basic income.
Pub.: 16 Dec '16, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: The essay is subdivided into six chapters. The first chapter deals with the relation between human rights and justice developing a concept of legal justice. The second chapter considers the multiculturalists’ critique of the main principle of legal justice, the principle of treating all persons equally and as equals, and drafts a meta-critique. The following two chapters discuss the conundrum of welfarist justice and defend a weak version of equality of opportunity. The fifth chapter turns to the negative impingement of continual unemployment on political programmes trying to increase equality of opportunity. The concluding chapter analyses the welfarist instrument of unconditional basic income and discusses its political and moral significance for a society with a shrinking labour market.
Pub.: 01 Jun '07, Pinned: 21 May '17
Abstract: The current Italian income support policies are defective with respect to efficiency and equity. A reform must face five crucial choices: universal vs. categorical policies; transfers vs. subsidies; unconditional vs. means-tested policies; coverage; flat vs. progressive tax rules. Using a microeconometric model and a social welfare methodology, we simulate—under fiscal neutrality and market equilibrium—the effects of 30 policies obtained from three basic types: conditional basic income, unconditional basic income and wage subsidies. The alternative reforms are evaluated according to four different social welfare criterion: the pure utilitarian and three different versions of a Gini-type social welfare function. The pure utilitarian criterion favours reforms based on a wage subsidy or a combination of wage subsidies and transfers. The Gini-type criteria favour unconditional transfers or combinations of wage subsidies with unconditional transfers. Most of the reforms turn out to be preferable to the current system: the choice set available for selecting a “best” reform given different criteria is very large.
Pub.: 14 Jul '15, Pinned: 21 May '17
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
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