Citizen's dividend

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This article is about the concept in Georgist economics. For the social dividend as a component of socialism, see Social dividend.
Thomas Paine was a major inspiration for this policy

Citizen's dividend or social dividend is a proposed state policy based upon the principle that the natural world is the common property of all persons (see Georgism). It is proposed that all citizens receive regular payments (dividends) from revenue raised by the state through leasing or taxing land (natural resources) for private use.

In the United States, the idea can be traced back to Thomas Paine's essay, Agrarian Justice,[1] which is also considered one of the earliest proposals for a social security system. Thomas Paine summarized his view by stating that "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds." Paine saw inheritance as being partly a common fund and wanted to supplement the citizen's dividend in a tax on inheritance transfers, but georgist supporters now focus on natural resources.

Implementations and Proposals[edit]

This concept is a form of basic income guarantee, where the citizen's dividend depends upon the value of natural resources or what could be titled as common goods like location values, seignorage, the electromagnetic spectrum, the industrial use of air (CO_2 production), etc.

The state of Alaska dispenses a form of citizen's dividend in its Permanent Fund dividend, which holds investments initially seeded by the state's revenue from mineral resources, particularly petroleum. In 2005, every eligible Alaskan resident (including children) received a check for $845.76. Over the 24-year history of the fund, it has paid out a total of $24,775.45 to every resident.[2]

The concept is also promoted as a tool to reduce carbon emissions.[3] Peter Barnes created the concept of "Sky Trust" as an example of how this could be implemented.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Agrarian Justice," Thomas Paine
  2. ^ "THE PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND". Alaska Permanent Fund. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Cap and Dividend". Institute for local self-reliance. Retrieved 11 Aug 2013. 


External links[edit]