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Getting Basic Income Right

Universal basic income schemes are receiving more attention these days, because they are seen as a solution to technology-driven economic disruptions. They certainly have their benefits, but making them work will require countries to strike the right balance between individual choice and social-policy guidance.

WASHINGTON, DC – Universal basic income (UBI) schemes are getting a lot of attention these days. Of course, the idea – to provide all legal residents of a country a standard sum of cash unconnected to work – is not new. The philosopher Thomas More advocated it back in the sixteenth century, and many others, including Milton Friedman on the right and John Kenneth Galbraith on the left, have promoted variants of it over the years. But the idea has lately been gaining much more traction, with some regarding it as a solution to today’s technology-driven economic disruptions. Can it work?