What does it really mean when scientists and politicians are talking about basic income? Basic income is comparable to a general and unconditional income guarantee. Such an income guarantee is based on the idea that people’s prospects should not be dependent on circumstances they have little or no control over, such as family background or social network.
Basic income has been discussed since the 1970s and the idea has attracted increased interest in recent years. In January 2017, Finland became the first country in Europe to launch a pilot project regarding a two-year basic income experiment, and similar projects are planned to take place in the Netherlands, Canada and Kenya. Can basic income be used as a means to redistribute resources more fairly, or should it be viewed as an unfair distribution of others’ hard work? These questions are addressed by Simon Birnbaum, political scientist and researcher at the Institute for Future Studies, in a blog post for Oxford University Press.
If you want to know more about basic income, you can listen to the recording of our seminar Basic income - the key to a free society and a healthy economy?. The keynote speaker Philippe Van Parijs, one of the world’s most famous advocates of basic income, presents the ideas behind this economic model and explains why there is a good reason to put our hope in basic income to meet present and future challenges of exclusion and economic insecurity.