Universal Basic Income
Basic Income, No Strings Attached: What would you do?
With an Universal Basic Income (UBI), all citizens would be guaranteed a basic income, no strings attached. There are different proposals on how much income would be given and how it would be financed, but commonly mentioned financing means are tax increases and welfare reductions.
The concept has been discussed since the 60s, and is now gaining momentum. In 2016, a first referendum was held on the topic in Switzerland. Even though supporters lost, they gained more support than anticipated and created a lot of new attention. A side from Switzerland, there are pilots planned in Finland, Canada and the Netherlands as well as in Oakland , U.S., by the “Y Combinator” incubator in Silicon Valley. Recently pilots have also been run in India and Namibia.
UBI has gained attention from the full political spectrum. It is seen as a way of dealing with the growing income inequalities as well as reducing welfare bureaucracy. The discussion is also triggered by the risk of automatization which threatens an increasing number of jobs. Recent estimates suggest that up to 47 % of jobs in the U.S. could be replaced in only two decades.
Critics of UBI often mention that the cost would be prohibitively large. An annual grant of USD 10,000 to all U.S. citizens would cost 13 % of the GDP. Moreover, labor market effects are still unclear; both increases and decreases of labor have been seen in past pilots.
64% of EU citizens would vote for basic income in a referendum according to a poll performed in April 2016.