Basic income

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This article is about a system of unconditional income to every citizen. For the more specific form financed on the returns of publicly owned enterprises, see social dividend. For social welfare based on means tests, see Guaranteed minimum income.
Not to be confused with minimum wage or living wage.
On October 4th 2013, Swiss activists from Generation Grundeinkommen organised a performance in Bern where 8 million coins were dumped on a public square, as a celebration of the successful collection of more than 125,000 signatures, which will force the government to hold a referendum on whether or not to incorporate the concept of basic income in the Federal constitution.

An unconditional basic income (also called basic income, basic income guarantee, universal basic income, universal demogrant,[1] or citizen’s income) is a form of social security system[2] in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.

An unconditional income transfer of less than the poverty line is sometimes referred to as a "partial basic income".

Basic income systems that are financed by the profits of publicly owned enterprises (often called Social dividend or Citizen's dividend) are major components in many proposed models of market socialism.[3] Basic income schemes have also been promoted within the context of capitalist systems, where they would be financed through various forms of taxation.[4]

Similar proposals for "capital grants provided at the age of majority" date to Thomas Paine's Agrarian Justice of 1795, there paired with asset-based egalitarianism. The phrase "social dividend" was commonly used as a synonym for basic income in the English-speaking world before 1986, after which the phrase "basic income" gained widespread currency.[5] Prominent advocates of the concept include Philippe Van Parijs, Ailsa McKay,[6] André Gorz, Hillel Steiner, Peter Vallentyne, and Guy Standing.


Administrative efficiency[edit]

The lack of means test or similar administration would allow for some saving on social welfare which could be put towards the grant.

The Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) describes one of the benefits of a basic income as having a lower overall cost than that of the current means-tested social welfare benefits,[7] and they have put forth proposals for implementation they claim to be financially viable.[8]

Work incentives and disincentives[edit]

A frequent objection to basic income is that it would create a disincentive to work since it is unconditional.[9][10][11] It might be expected that the magnitude of such a disincentive would depend on how generous the basic income were to be. Some campaigners in Switzerland have suggested a level that would only just be liveable, arguing that people would want to supplement it.[12]

Tim Worstall, a writer and blogger, has argued that traditional welfare schemes create a disincentive to work because such schemes typically cause people to lose benefits at around the same rate that their income rises (a form of poverty trap where the marginal tax rate is 100%). He has asserted that this particular disincentive is not a property shared by basic income as the rate of increase is positive at all incomes.[13]

In one study, even when the benefits are not permanent, the hours worked—by the recipients of the benefit—are observed to decline by 5%, a decrease of 2 hours in a typical 40 hour work week:

While experiments have been conducted in the United States and Canada, those participating knew that their benefits were not permanent and, consequently, they were not likely to change their behaviour as much or in the same manner had the GAI been ongoing. As a result, total hours worked fell by about five percent on average. The work reduction was largest for second earners in two-earner households and weakest for the main earner. Further, the negative work effect was higher the more generous the benefit level.[10]

However, in studies of the Mincome experiment in rural Dauphin, Manitoba in the 1970s, the only two groups who worked significantly less were new mothers and teenagers working to support their families. New mothers spent this time with their infant children, and working teenagers put significant additional time into their schooling.[14] Under Mincome, "the reduction of work effort was modest: about one per cent for men, three per cent for wives, and five per cent for unmarried women."[15]

Another study that contradicted such decline in work incentive was a pilot project implemented in 2008 and 2009 in the Namibian village of Omitara; the assessment of the project after its conclusion found that economic activity actually increased, particularly through the launch of small businesses, and reinforcement of the local market by increasing households' buying power.[16] However the residents of Omitara were described as suffering "dehumanising levels of poverty" before the introduction of the pilot,[17] and as such the project's relevance to potential implementations in developed economies is not known.


Several sources of funding have been proposed for hypothetical socialist economic systems on the basis of social ownership of the means of production and/or natural resources:

Many sources of funding have been suggested for a guaranteed minimum income for capitalist economic systems:

Affordability studies[edit]

The affordability of a basic income proposal relies on many factors such as the costs of any public services it replaces, tax increases required, and less tangible auxiliary effects on government revenue and/or spending (for example a successful basic income scheme may reduce crime, thereby reducing required expenditure on policing and justice.)

Specific, though informal, measurements were made by Pascal J. for Canada who concluded that a 2004 taxable basic income benefit of $7800 per adult could be afforded without any tax increases by replacing welfare, unemployment, and core old-age services.[citation needed]

A 2012 affordability study done in the Republic of Ireland by Social Justice Ireland found that basic income would be affordable with a 45% income tax rate. This would lead to an improvement in income for the majority of the population.[20]

Difference from guaranteed income[edit]

Basic income and traditional welfare systems both share goals of achieving some level of economic equity. Guaranteed income typically operates by 'topping up' deficient wages via a system like a negative income tax that includes a sliding scale of diminishing returns for those who earn more, whereas basic income is paid to all irrespective of income or other eligibility criteria.

Pilot programmes[edit]

As of 2015, a number of basic income pilot programmes and similar experiments have been run around the world, with generally positive outcomes.[citation needed]


A study conducted by Evelyn Forget in 2011 examined the results of a pilot programme in the Canadian province of Manitoba during 1974–1979 called Mincome. She found minimal reduction in work effort and an increase in education and health outcomes.[21]


A number of negative income tax experiments took place in different places in the USA. While there is some controversy, Alicia H. Munnell, examining experiments in Indiana, Seattle and Denver,[22] explains that Gary Burtless found a moderate reduction in work effort (17% among women, 7% among men). She also found that the money was not squandered on frivolous products such as drugs and luxury goods. There was an increase in school attendance, but otherwise, no noticeable improvements to health and well-being and a negligible effect on homeownership rates.


The Namibia BIG Coalition launched a pilot program in Ojivero-Omitara from January 2008 to December 2009.[23] The group found, despite large in-migration of non-BI receiving families to the area, a decrease in poverty, an increase in economic activity, reduced crime, reduced child malnutrition and increased school attendance as well as other positive effects.[citation needed]


In 2010, two pilots were launched in the northern state of Madhya Pradesh.[24] The study found an increase in economic activity as well as an increase in savings, an improvement in housing and sanitation, improved nutrition, less food poverty, improved health and schooling, greater inclusion of the disabled in society and a lack of frivolous spending.[25]

Other similar programmes[edit]

Other experiments and studies have been run involving other programmes similar to basic income, usually involving an unconditional cash grant or one with limited conditions.

Conditional cash transfers[edit]

The most famous of which is the Bolsa Familia in Brazil which has been credited with greatly reducing poverty in the country. A cash grant is given to families below a certain income level, provided they meet certain basic conditions such as sending their child to school. Other similar programmes exist in several Latin American countries, including the Oportunidades programme in Mexico.

GiveDirectly experiments[edit]

The private charity GiveDirectly has been operating since 2009 and operates by giving cash directly to the world's poorest families. From the outset, they set out to test their efforts through experiments and have found a positive effect on people's lives and incomes from the grants.[26] One study from Haushofer and Shapiro in 2013 found a 34% increase in earnings, a 52% increase in assets, 42% reduction in days children go without food and a 0% effect on alcohol or tobacco spending.[citation needed]

GiveDirectly is rated amongst the most deserving charities by charity-rating organisations GiveWell.[27]

Alaska Permanent Fund[edit]

Main article: Alaska Permanent Fund

The U.S. State of Alaska has a system which provides each citizen with a share of the state's oil revenues,[28] although this amount, averaging around $1300 p.a. in recent years, is far from enough to live on. The Alaska basic income is subject to income tax on the federal level. That way the "basic income" works like a negative income tax but with a "prebate" instead of a "rebate" (as far as state finances are concerned).


Basic income by country

In many countries, there are advocates for a basic income.

At least one Nobel prize winner, James Meade, has advocated a basic income plan.[29][30] Several other Nobel winners have supported the related concept of a guaranteed minimum income, often in the form of a negative income tax, including Paul Krugman,[31] Milton Friedman,[32] F. A. Hayek,[33] Herbert A. Simon,[34] and Robert Solow.[35]

One of the world's most outspoken advocates of a basic income system is Belgian philosopher and political economist Philippe van Parijs.[36] Other advocates include feminist economist Ailsa McKay,[37] German drugstore magnate Götz Werner, Dutch political activist Saar Boerlage,[38] French social theorist André Gorz,[39] American political philosopher Michael Hardt and Italian Marxist sociologist Antonio Negri,[40] American libertarian political scientist Charles Murray,[41] New Zealand economist Gareth Morgan,[42] Finnish politician Osmo Soininvaara,[43] University of London economist Guy Standing,[44][45] Brazilian politician and economist Eduardo Suplicy.[46]


Many socialist economists have advocated a form of basic income as a means for distributing the economic profits of publicly owned enterprises to benefit the entire population (also referred to as a social dividend), where the basic income payment represents the return to each citizen on the capital owned by society. These systems would be directly financed out of returns on publicly owned assets and are featured as major components of many models of market socialism.[3]

Erik Olin Wright characterizes basic income as a socialist project and a further reform to capitalism that could establish the basis of a social economy by empowering labor in relation to capital.[47]

In his final book Full employment regained? James Meade states that a return to full employment can only be achieved if, among other things, workers offer their services at a low enough price that the required wage for unskilled labour would be too low to generate a socially desirable distribution of income. Meade concludes that a citizen's income is thus necessary to achieve full employment without suffering stagnant or negative growth in wages.[48] James Meade advocated for a social dividend scheme to be funded by publicly owned productive assets.[49]

In 1918, in Roads to Freedom, the philosopher Bertrand Russell argued for a basic income alongside public ownership as a means to decrease the average length of the working day and to achieve full employment.[50]

Sociologist and democratic socialist Frances Fox Piven argues that an income guarantee would benefit all workers by liberating them from the anxiety that results from the "tyranny of wage slavery" and provide opportunities for people to pursue different occupations and develop untapped potentials for creativity.[51]

The French Marxist social theorist Andre Gorz advocated a basic income system as a means to overcome alienation and as an adaptation to the increasing automation of work. Gorz argued that basic income would lead to an increase in the amount of leisure time available to each individual through a re-distribution of the workload in society.[52]

Economist Harry Shutt advocates a basic income system, which would in effect replace all existing state social security and welfare benefits except childcare. This measure would go alongside his proposal for public and cooperative ownership of enterprises and the end of capital accumulation as a driving force in the economy. Together, these measures would constitute the makeup of a post-capitalist economic system.[53]


Geolibertarians seek to synthesize propertarian libertarianism and a geoist (or Georgist) philosophy of land as unowned commons or equally owned by all people, citing the classical economic distinction between unimproved land and private property. The rental value of land is produced by the labors of the community and, as such, rightly belongs to the community at large and not solely to the landholder. A land value tax (LVT) is levied as an annual fee for exclusive access to a section of earth, which is collected and redistributed to the community either through public goods, such as public security or a court system, or in the form of a basic guaranteed income called a citizen's dividend. Geolibertarians view the LVT as a single tax to replace all other methods of taxation, which are deemed unjust violations of the non-aggression principle.

The idea of a basic income guarantee has also gained some traction among members of the bleeding-heart libertarian movement, which emphasizes social justice concerns and promotes libertarian policies as means to alleviate poverty and unburden the least well off in society.


Support for basic income has been expressed by several people associated with right-wing political views. While adherents of such views generally favor minimization or abolition of the public provision of welfare services, some have cited basic income as a viable strategy to reduce the amount of bureaucratic administration that is prevalent in many contemporary welfare systems. Others have contended that it could also act as a form of compensation for fiat currency inflation.[54][55][56] It is a central element of the economic theory of social credit developed by C.H. Douglas which inspired a number of political movements throughout the British Empire and beyond. The Alberta Social Credit Party attempted to implement such measures to combat the Great Depression, which foundered over constitutional objections and later distributed oil profits to the public as a partial element of this former policy.


Feminist economist Ailsa McKay argued for a basic income as "a tool for promoting gender-neutral social citizenship rights."[6]

Technology industry[edit]

Concerns about automation and other causes of technological unemployment have caused many in the high-tech industry to turn to basic income proposals as a necessary implication of their business models. Journalist Nathan Schneider first highlighted the turn of the "tech elite" to these ideas with an article in Vice magazine, which cited figures such as Marc Andreessen, Sam Altman, Peter Diamandis, and others.[57]


The chief advocacy organisation for basic income is the Basic Income Earth Network which has national affiliate organisations all over the world.[citation needed]

A number of countries have conditional cash transfer programs but politically the country that came closest to implementing a form of basic income was the United States in the 1970s, where a proposal for negative income tax was supported by then President Richard Nixon and voted on in Congress, but ultimately defeated.[58]

As of 2015, the basic income movement is most advanced in Brazil where a law was passed in 2004 committing the government to implement a basic income; however there has been minimal movement on this since the conditional cash transfer program, Bolsa Familia, was introduced and the chief proponent of basic income in parliament has since lost his seat. Elsewhere, in Canada, Finland, Spain and the Netherlands, the most popular party according to polls in each country supports a basic income. Each of these countries will have an election in either 2016 or 2017 where a basic income-supporting party, according to 2015 polls, is likely to become the largest in parliament. This does not mean their government will implement a basic income however, with none of those parties likely to achieve an overall majority and none of them indicating that basic income is a priority for a potential government.[citation needed]

Here is a breakdown of all partisans of basic income, listed by region or country.



From January 2008 to December 2009, a pilot project with a basic income grant was implemented in the Namibian village of Omitara (or Otjivero-Omitara) by the Namibian Basic Income Grant Coalition.[59][60] It was mainly funded by a German Protestant church, by individual contributions of German and Namibian citizens and by contributions of the German Ministry for Cooperation. The amount paid out per head was N$100 (around US$12).

Six months after the launch, the project was found to have significantly reduced child malnutrition and increased school attendance. It was also found to have increased the community's income significantly above the actual amount from the grants as it allowed citizens to partake in more productive economic activities.[61][62] The project team stated that this increase in economic activity contradicts critics' claims that a basic income would lead to laziness and dependency.[16]

After the conclusion of the pilot project phase, a monthly bridging-allowance of N$80 (around US$10) was paid regularly to all who participated in the pilot until March 2012.[16] One of the conclusions of the project was that, even with the restriction that only residents of the village for over a year since the pilot's start could benefit from the grant, there was a significant migration towards Otjivero-Omitara, despite the fact that the migrants wouldn't receive the grant. The project concluded that this phenomenon reveals the need to introduce such basic income systems as a universal national grant, in order to avoid migration to particular regions, towns or households.[16] Another finding of the project was that after the introduction of the pilot, overall crime rates fell by 42%, specifically stock theft, which fell by 43% and other theft by nearly 20%.[16]

The above-mentioned conclusions about the effects of the project in Omitara have been derived from two empirical studies conducted by the Basic Income Grant Coalition: one study that covers the first 6 months of the project[63] and a second study about the first 12 months of the project.[64] No further empirical studies or project assessments have been published.

There is no public access to the project database. In a Namibian daily, the project representatives confirmed the lack of public access to their data and justified it.[65]

The design of the project and the conduct of the empirical studies have been criticized by some authors for intransparent procedure and inappropriate methods.[66]

The Government of the Republic of Namibia has repeatedly argued against the introduction of a Basic Income Grant and has not changed its mind during and after the pilot project.

In May 2012, the community leader of Otjivero-Omitara, Ernst Gariseb, told a journalist of a Namibian newspaper: "Since two decades we are sitting here without work, development and perspectives." The journalist concluded: "Despite the support of the BIG there is not any development to be seen in Otjivero."[67]



Main article: Basic income in India

Two basic income pilot projects have been underway in India since January 2011.[68] According to the first communication of the pilot projects, positive results have been found.[69] Villages spent more on food and healthcare, children's school performance improved in 68 percent of families, time spent in school nearly tripled, personal savings tripled, and new business startups doubled.[70]


In 2011, Iran implemented a basic income grant in order to compensate for the removal of government subsidies on basic goods such as petrol and food.[71] A first assessment of the experiences in Iran is provided by H. Talabani (2011).[72]


In Japan, New Party Nippon and the Greens Japan support basic income, along with some economists such as Toru Yamamori and Kaori Katada.[73]


Macau has distributed funds to all residents, permanent and non-permanent, since 2008, as part of the region's Wealth Partaking Scheme. In 2014, the government distributed 9,000 patacas (approx. US$1,127) to each permanent resident, and 5,400 patacas ($676) to non-permanent residents.[74]

South Korea[edit]

The Socialist Party supported basic income, along with delegate Geum Min in South Korea.[75]


The Basic Income Earth Network, first called "Basic Income European Network" (BIEN) until 2004, was the first international organization which aimed to promote basic income internationally. It gathered essentially a group of researchers and economists working on the topic. BIEN recognizes numerous national advocacy groups, and coordinates international communication through its newsletter and a biannual congress.

Following a number of meetings in different cities in Europe (Vienna 2005, Basel 2007, Berlin 2008, Herzogenrath 2009, and Vienna 2011), several organizations such as the German Round-table for basic income have decided to work together for promoting basic income at the European level. In Vienna (2011) they agreed on the preparation of a European Citizens' Initiative.[76]

On 14 January 2013, the European citizens' initiative registration was accepted by the EU commission, thus beginning a 12-month period to collect more than one million signatures in the European Union.[77] On 28 November, a group of 26 members of the European Parliament issued a joint call for support for this initiative.[78]


Historically in Belgium, the most active group promoting basic income is the movement Vivant and the philosopher Philippe Van Parijs, who founded the Basic Income European network (BIEN) in 1987. A Belgian basic income network affiliated to the BIEN was founded in 2012 in Brussels[79]


At the end of March 2013 "The Blue Bird Foundation" (Bulgaria) learns about the ongoing "European Citizens' Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income" (ECIUBI) and decides to join in this effort started by fellow European citizens that is based on the common values of human rights and development. The Foundation is accepted as a member of the Citizens' Committee of ECIUBI with Mr. Prem Sajeev as a regional organizer, Ms. Tsvetelina Kalyasheva as regional co-organizer on the 10th of April the same year and later on Boby Angelov and the entrepreneur Toni Bajdarov as page content creators and editors. Toni Bajdarov proposed comprehensive model for basic income in Bulgaria, where self-financing is based on sovereign currency, reversed VAT and excise duties. You can find it in Bulgarian language at:

More volunteers join this Bulgarian team which results in the translation of all the needed and associated documents required by the core ECIUBI team and the ECI regulations. The official site is translated into Bulgarian and Bulgaria is officially granted the right to collect signatures for the Initiative. The team also creates a Facebook page promoting the Initiative and starts to get in contact with media and advertising agencies. During those times the "Bulgarian National Radio" joins as a media partner and "Metroreklama" grants the right to advertise the Initiative in all metro stations and trains.

The Facebook page gathers more volunteers and starts the translation and spreading of information on the idea of basic income and unconditional basic income. Many sources on the subject of those two are used and the research is an ongoing process but to highlight a few: and proved to be very helpful. The battle to get popularity for the idea offline though proves to be more difficult and not much is accomplished despite of the huge effort to get the attention of the big media, the trade unions and the NGO's. After the continuous meetings, negotiations and countless emails the team gets the official support from: "The Artist Union of Bulgaria", "The Bulgarian Music Association", "The European Anti-Poverty Network" (Bulgaria), Citizens' Movement "DNES", "Zona Lovech", "The Bulgarian Association of the Economists" and with the support of Dr. Guy Standing the "CITUB" trade union which made the huge impact on the signature collection for the Initiative.

After this support the people started to take interest in the idea which resulted in an unseen support for an online voting initiative in the history of Bulgaria. After an exhausting 10-month battle Bulgaria made its quota for just about two days and by the end of the Initiative we've had over 235% above it.[80]

In December 2014 emerged the first political party in Bulgaria, which includes in its program basic income as a fundamental political action and promise. It was called Bulgarian Union for Direct Democracy - BUDD and defines the theme of the human right to a dignified life as supports it with the principles of direct democratic process and the new decentralized energy relations in the economy. The official Facebook page of the organization reached 11K likes in just 9 months and now many Bulgarian people rely on the possibility to have a real alternative of deep poverty, national demographic catastrophe and grotesque inequality. More about BUDD could be found on Bulgarian Union for Direct Democracy in Bulgarian language.

Czech Republic[edit]

The first bigger discussion on universal basic income in the Czech Republic was initiated by philosophers and social scientists Marek Hrubec and Martin Brabec. Later, they published with Philippe Van Parijs a book "Všeobecný základní příjem. Právo na lenost, nebo na přežití?" ("Universal Basic Income. Right to Laziness, or Right to Survival?").[81] In 2013, activists and social scientists joined the European Citizens' Initiative for Unconditional Basic Income,[82] and have created a campaign to support unconditional basic income.[83] In the Czech Republic, unconditional basic income is supported by many individuals, NGOs (Alternativa zdola, ProAlt, Levá perspektiva, for example), and political parties. It is the program of the Green Party, the Communist Party, the Pirate Party, and the Party of Democratic Socialism. It is supported also by many Social Democrats.


The Centre Party, one of Finland's four major parties, as well as the Left Alliance and Green League, have all expressed support for basic income.[84]

BIEN Finland launched a citizens' initiative.[85][dated info]


In France, the first prominent defender of basic income is Yoland Bresson. In 1985, he founded the "Association pour l'Instauration d'un revenu d'existence" with Henri Guitton (fr)[86] for promoting basic income in France, and co-founded the BIEN the year after. Another prominent advocate of basic income is the philosopher André Gorz, who finally endorsed the idea[87] after having been an opponent for years.[88]

Leftist activists such as Baptiste Mylondo, Yann Moulier Boutang,[89] Toni Negri, Jean-Marc Ferry, Ignacio Ramonet, Jacques Marseille (fr)[90] also favour basic income.

On the political side, the Christian democrat Christine Boutin, the former prime-minister Dominique de Villepin, are the most well-known politicians claiming for basic income, along with some MPs like Karima Delli, Jean Desessard and Yves Cochet.

The very influential think tank Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants (CJD) ("Young policymakers trust") also call for a basic income of 400 euros per citizen.[91] The CJD's and Christine Boutin's basic income proposals are based on Marc de Basquiat financing model,[92] which demonstrates a way of financing a basic income of 400 euros for every adult and 200 per child, while other advocates such as Baptiste Mylondo and Jacques Marseille promote a "high enough" basic income, around 750 euros. However, unlike Mylondo and Marseille, De Basquiat's model doesn't reduce any pension, housing or unemployment benefits.

In 2012 a group of citizens launched a transpartisan network in an attempt to join forces for raising awareness about basic income in France.[93] On March 2013, the French Movement for Basic Income was thus formed officially. It took part in the European citizens initiative that started earlier in January 2013.[94]

In 2014, a group of activists launched L'Inconditionnel, a newspaper about basic income.[95]

In 2015, an opinion poll suggested that 60% of the French population was in favor of a basic income.[96]


Perhaps the most prominent proponent of basic income in Germany is Götz Werner, the former CEO of the retail store chain DM Drogeriemarkt, and among the richest men in Germany. He also taught economics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

The generalization of workfare policies that came to be known as the Hartz concept have paved the way to a broader movement for basic income in Germany.[97]

In 2008, a petition launched by social activist Susanne Wiest was supported by more than 50,000 citizens, thus offering her a hearing at the Bundestag,[98] which helped to broaden the public debate on the idea.

Among the political parties in Germany, the Pirate Party officially endorsed basic income in 2011.[99] Inside the Christian Democratic Union, Dieter Althaus proposes a basic income model.[100] A group led by Katja Kipping also promotes basic income inside the leftist party Die Linke.[101] Also, within the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Rhein-Erft-group favors basic income[102] since 2010. Within The Greens there are also many advocates.


Though the idea of basic income is not well known in Greece, several economists have worked on the topic. In 2010, the liberal party Drasi supported a proposal for a basic pension scheme, aiming at simplifying the hundreds of pension schemes in a country being hurt by the debt crisis and pressured by the troika to balance its public budget. Manos Matsaganis and Chrysa Leventi co-authored a study that demonstrate the feasibility of such a proposal.[103]

Other heterodox proposals suggest that a Greek exit from the eurozone could be an opportunity to implement a "monetary dividend" for every Greek citizen as a way to manage the financial collapse of the country.[104]


Basic income - called Feltétel Nélküli Alapjövedelem (FNA) in Hungarian (unconditional basic income) is supported by the FNA Group, which held its first active-team-meeting in Hungary/Budaörs, on 31 May 2011.[105] Basic income is also endorsed by the Hungarian Pirate Party.[106]


In October 2014 the Icelandic Pirate Party put forth a parliamentary resolution calling on the Minister of Social Affairs and Housing and the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs to appoint a workgroup to conceive ways to ensure every citizen an unconditional basic income.[107][108]


Currently the chief advocacy group is Basic Income Ireland,[109] a member of BIEN. Social Justice Ireland has produced a fully costed proposal for 2012. Before that, the main advocate was CORI (Conference of Religious of Ireland), one of the social partners. Politically, the Green Party and Fianna Fail (the latter as of July 2015)favour a Basic Income.

As part of the agreement with the social partners including CORI, a green paper on Basic Income was published by the government in 2002,[110] but there has been no movement on a government level since then.

In 2013, during the European Citizen's Initiative campaign, six MEPs from the Republic of Ireland signed a statement in favour of Basic Income.[111]


The issue of the basic income gained prominence on the political agenda in Netherlands between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s.[112][113] In 2015 it was announced that the city of Utrecht and its local university will be conducting an experiment on basic income. Local authorities are planning to encourage other municipalities to engage in similar experiences.[114]


The Norwegian Green Party,[115] Norwegian Red Party,[116] Democrats in Norway[117][118] and the Norwegian Pirate Party[119] endorse basic income in Norway. The Liberal Party of Norway formerly endorsed a basic income guarantee in Norway, but dropped it from the platform before the 2013 election.[120]

The NGO BIEN Norge, affiliated with Basic Income Earth Network works to promote the system in Norway.[121]


Since 2001, the Red Renta Básica is the national network affiliated to the BIEN. It gathers researchers and activists for basic income.[122] From 2011 to 2012, the 15-M Movement also contributed a lot in spreading the idea among the Spanish society,[123] and political party Podemos introduced it as one of its proposals.

In 2015, a citizen's initiative received 185,000 signatures, short of the required amount for the proposal to be discussed in parliament.[124]

Famous Spanish advocates of basic income include Daniel Raventos, David Casassas, José Luis Ley.


The association BIEN-Switzerland[125] (affiliated to the Basic Income Earth Network) promotes basic income in the francophone part of Switzerland. In the German-speaking part of Switzerland a group called "Initiative Grundeinkommen" is very active in promoting basic income.[126]

In 2006, the sociologist Jean Ziegler considered basic income as "one of the most pressing idea of all".[127]

In 2008, Daniel Häni and Enno Schmidt produced The Basic income, a cultural impulse, a movie that explains and praises the idea of a basic income. With more than 400,000 views,[128] the movie went viral and contributed a lot in spreading the idea among French and German speaking countries.

In April 2012, both groups launched a popular legislative initiative[129][130] which aims at introducing basic income in the Swiss Federal Constitution. The campaign successfully collected enough signatures (126,000) by October 4[131] thereby triggering a nationwide popular referendum which is due to take place at the Fall of 2016. To celebrate this success, the organizers of the initiative dumped 8 million swiss francs 5 cents coins on the main square in front of the Federal parliament in Bern.[132]

Switzerland will be the first country where People will be consulted by referendum on this issue.[133][134][135]

The trade union Syna brought its support for this initiative.[136] However both the Federal government[137] and the National Council of Switzerland (lower house of parliament) called on the People to reject the proposal by referendum.[138]

United Kingdom[edit]

Co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, the professor Guy Standing is a famous advocate of the unconditional basic income. In his book The Precariat - the new dangerous class, he blames globalization for having plunged more and more people into the precariat, which he analyses as a new emerging social class.[139] He concludes on the necessity for "governments to provide basic security as a right"[140] - through a basic income.

Edward Skidelsky and Robert Skidelsky favoured a basic income in their book called How Much is Enough?.[141]

Basic income is supported by the Green Party of England and Wales,[142] the Scottish Green Party,[143] the Scottish Socialist Party[144] and the Pirate Party UK[145]

North America[edit]


William Aberhart, premier of Alberta, was inspired by Major C. H. Douglas Social Credit theory and tried to implement a basic income for Albertans during the 1930s. However, he was thwarted in his attempts by the Federal Government of the time.[146]

The city of Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada, took part in an experimental guaranteed income program ("Mincome") between 1974 and 1979.[147][148]

In November 2013, a poll commissioned by the Trudeau Foundation found that 46% of Canadians favoured and 42% opposed replacing current economic assistance with a guaranteed national income.[149]

Starting in 2014, the Liberal Party of Canada,[150] the Green Party of Canada,[151] the Pirate Party of Canada,[152] provincial party Québec Solidaire,[153] and conservative senator Hugh Segal[154] have been advocating for basic income in Canada. Mike Redmond, leader of the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island, has supported a basic income pilot project on Prince Edward Island.[155]

United States[edit]

In his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, published in 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated a guaranteed income.[156][157]

In 1968, James Tobin, Paul Samuelson, John Kenneth Galbraith and another 1,200 economists signed a document calling for the US Congress to introduce in that year a system of income guarantees and supplements.[158]

In 1969, Richard Nixon proposed a "Family Assistance Program" which resembled guaranteed income, in that benefits did not rapidly taper with additional earnings by the beneficiaries. Nixon's proposal only applied to families, but extended previous welfare by benefiting more than those without a 'father'. This proposal did not pass the (Democratic) House Finance Committee, after Nixon added work requirements to the measure.[159] In 1973, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote The Politics of a Guaranteed Income (ISBN 978-0-394-46354-4) in which he advocated for the Basic Income and discussed Nixon's proposal.

In the 1972 presidential campaign, Senator George McGovern called for a 'demogrant' that was similar to a basic income.

Mike Gravel, a former US congressman and presidential candidate, advocates a tax rebate paid in a monthly check from the government to all citizens as part of a transition away from income taxes and toward a pre-bated national sales tax (the FairTax).[160][161]

Notable libertarian proponents of basic income include Milton Friedman (in the form of negative income tax),[162] and Charles Murray, who outlined a basic income proposal in his 2006 book In Our Hands: A Plan To Replace The Welfare State.[163]

Winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences who fully support a basic income include Herbert A. Simon,[164] Friedrich Hayek,[165][166] James Meade, Robert Solow,[167] and Milton Friedman.[168]

Richard Parncutt argues that income tax is effectively progressive when basic income is combined with flat income tax. The combination would simplify the tax-welfare system.[169]

In Oregon, Tax and Conversation[170] is a member-owned organization working to end all tax exceptions via a ballot measure for 2014.[171] 66% of all dollars from current tax expenditures go to only 20 out of every 100 people with the most money[172] (paid tax on income after exceptions is regressive), and that money would instead be paid unconditionally: each full-year taxfiler will get $700 each month. The total expenditure amount would be slightly less than the current expenditure amount of $24 billion each year, because core government services will get more funding.[173]

Jeremy Rifkin, in his book The End of Work, argued that there may be an increasing need for such measures as automation would reduce the demand for workers in future.[174]

The Green Party of the United States 2010 platform advocated for "a universal basic income (sometimes called a guaranteed income, negative income tax, citizen's income, or citizen dividend). This would go to every adult regardless of health, employment, or marital status, in order to minimize government bureaucracy and intrusiveness into people's lives."[175]

A January 2014 article in Rolling Stone magazine argued that universal basic income, or social security for all, should be one of five economic reforms Millennials fight for.[176]

The U.S. has an earned income tax credit for low-income taxpayers. In 2006 a bill written by members of the advocacy organization USBIG[177] to transform the credit into a partial basic income was introduced in the US Congress but did not pass.[178]

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians[edit]

Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, based in North Carolina, receive payments of several thousand dollars twice a year.[179] These payments are dividends from the profits of the Harrah's Cherokee casino, and have been distributed since 1996. A study of the payments' effects on the children of the community found significant declines in poverty, behavioral problems, crime, substance abuse and psychiatric problems, and increases in on-time graduation. The effects were primarily found among those who were youngest when the payments began, and among those who were lifted out of poverty rather than those who were already well-off.[180][181]



Basic Income has gained support from Australian academics such as John Tomlinson, John Wiseman, and Allan MacDonald.[182] The Queensland Greens were the first Australian party to adopt a Guaranteed Adequate Income (GAI) policy in 1999. In 2010, the Democratic Liberal Party announced support of a negative income tax with a 30% flat tax rate[183] and the Pirate Party of Australia announced its support in 2014.[184] Basic Income Guarantee Australia was accepted into the Basic Income Earth Network in 2006 as an affiliate member.[185] In August 2014, ACOSS made a recommendation to simplify the welfare system via a basic income support payment; however, this differs from a universal guaranteed income in that it would still be means-tested.[186]

South America[edit]


Basic income has been discussed in modern Brazil at least since the 1980s[citation needed]. In 2001 a law was introduced by Senator Eduardo Suplicy of the Brazilian Workers Party which mandated the progressive institution of such a welfare system. By this move Brazil became the first country in the world to pass such a law. Suplicy had previously introduced a bill to create a Negative Income Tax, but that bill failed to pass. The new bill called for a national and universal basic income to be instituted, beginning with those most in need. The bill was approved by the Senate in 2002 and by the Chamber of Deputies in 2003. President Lula da Silva signed it into law in 2004, and according to the bill it is the president´s responsibility to gradually implement the reform. Since then Brasil has started to implement the bill through the Bolsa Família-program, which was a centerpiece of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's social policy, and is reputed to have played a role in his victory in the Brazilian presidential election, 2006.

An independent and privately funded pilot project is currently in place in Brazil.[187] It provides R$30 monthly which is 4.4% of the minimum salary in 2013 (as defined by the federal government) and is not enough to meet basic needs.

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]