Universal basic income

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Poster Art by Luke Kingma for Futurism.com

Universal Basic Income, sometimes referred to simply as UBI or Basic Income, is a political policy idea whereby all individual citizens receive a basic level of recurring and unconditional cash funding from either the state or some other public institution.[1]

Many futurists support the idea as a necessary economic response to technological unemployment.

Some socialists support the idea as an extension and simplification of the welfare state.

Some libertarians support the ideas as radical simplification of the welfare state for the purposes of reducing the remaining size of government programmes.

History of Universal Basic Income

A history of UBI can be found Here

Arguments in Favor of Universal Basic Income

  • Better Health - In two separate occurrences, the implementation of a universal basic income system corresponded with populations experiencing fewer mental and physical health issues. [2]
  • Increased Entrepreneurship - Some believe that UBI will alleviate fear of failure and thus increase levels of entrepreneurship. [3]
  • Poverty Reduction - Providing a basic income would help countries tackle poverty as a means to ensure a basic standard of living.

Notable People in Favor of UBI

Arguments Against Universal Basic Income

  • Unwanted Spending - Policy makers and others often express concern that poor households will use transfers to buy alcohol, tobacco, or other “temptation goods". Although "A growing number of studies therefore indicate that concerns about the use of cash transfers for alcohol and tobacco are unfounded." [8]
  • Too costly to Implement - Some experts believe that the initiative would be too costly and that it is unnecessary at this point. [9] The "too costly" point of the argument may be rendered null by advances in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. [10] Zoltan Istvan believes that it could be paid for in the US by monetizing federal land. [11]

Notable People Against UBI

Articles Relating to UBI



Whilst Universal Basic Income may be described as "universal, in practice it would face issues surronding the ability to demonstrate the entitlement to that income:

  • All recipents of Universal Basic income would necessarily have to be citizens of a state (and have appropriate documentation to demonstrate citizenship). The status of residents within a country who are non-citizens such unregistered and illegal immigrants could be denied access to a basic income depending on the policy of a government.
  • Basic Income may have a qualification on how long someone is a resident of the country and actually living there to establish if immigrants gain the basic income by living in the country and/or getting citizenship, whether citizens who have not lived in the country for several years should be entitled and if members of the armed forces stationed overseas should have a basic income whilst outside of the country.
  • Certian safeguards would have to be introduced to prevent people fraudulently cliaming a basic income who are non-citizens, protections against fraud by impersonating someone entitled to basic income, preventing people from cliaming basic income multiple times (such as from multiple addresses), etc.

It is debatable whether sections of a population may not be entitled to a basic income such as:

  • Whether there should be a minimum age for people to cliam a basic income, such as the age of majority, and whether basic income should be paid for people below that age to parents or guardians as child benifit.
  • vulnerable groups who may not have the mental faculties to use a basic income such as whether payments should be made and to whom for people in mental institutions or hospital patients who are in a coma.
  • the principle that a government or organisation should pay a basic income to those with considerable assets and income may prove to be controversial.

Certian fundamental requirements to registering and collecting the basic income could prove to be problematic such as homeless persons without a permanent address or bank account.

Similar Policies

Many policies pursue similar objectives to a Universal Basic Income and could act as steps towards implementing a basic income or alternatives to one:

  • Gaurenteed Minimum Income - A Guarenteed Minimum Income gaurentees that all citizens have an income sufficient to live on based on a means test. If such a system defines citizenship as the only criteria for eligibility it becomes a universal basic income.
  • Negative Income Tax - Negative Income Tax is a progressive income tax where below a certain income threshold, the state pays people a supplement to their pay.
  • Living Wage - A Living Wage is a the minimum income necessary to satisfy basic needs. Needs are not defined in a biological sense of pure subsistence but are often more broadly defined shelter, food, clothing, etc.

Nonprofits and NGOs

Below is a list of links to Nonprofits and NGOs for Universal Basic Income:

Cryptocurrency Backed BI/UBI

Pilot Programmes

Many pilot programmes have been, or will be tested in order to trial UBI.

From 1974 to 1979, the Canadian providence of Manitoba trial the Mincome as an experiment in a guaranteed minimum income.

The website Futurism put together an infographic detailing some of the current and pilot programmes around the world which can be viewed here: UBI Pilot Programmes Around The World

An article that appeared on Futurism states; "A German startup is putting universal basic income to the test, and recipients in Berlin argue that the program has not turned them into layabouts, contrary to what some UBI critics believe." [13]

Related Media

Video Interviews

Featuring Rutger Bregman

Video Animations

From Canada Basic Income Network (3 minutes)


See Also

External Links