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Basic income around the world The idea of a state-run basic income dates back to the early 16th century, when Sir Thomas More argued in Utopia that every person should receive a guaranteed income, [7] and to the late 18th century when English radical Thomas Spence and American revolutionary Thomas Paine both declared their support for a welfare system in which all citizens were guaranteed a certain income.

In the 19th century and until the s the debate on basic income was limited, but in the s and s the United States and Canada conducted several experiments with negative income taxation, a related welfare system. From the s and onwards the debate in Europe took off more broadly and since then it has expanded to many countries around the world.

From and onwards there have also been several experiments with basic income and related systems. Especially in countries with an existing welfare state a part of the funding assumably comes from replacing the current welfare arrangements, or a part of it, such as different grants for unemployed people.

Apart from that there are several ideas and proposals regarding the rest of the financing, as well as different ideas about the level and other aspects. The idea of an unconditional basic income, given to all citizens in a state or all adult citizenswas first presented near the middle of the 19th century.

But long before that there were ideas of a so-called minimum income, the idea of a one-off grant and the idea of a social insurance which still is a key feature of all modern welfare states, with insurances for and against unemployment, sickness, parenthood, accidents, old age and so forth.

Johannes Ludovicus Vives —for example, proposed that the municipal government should be responsible for securing a subsistence minimum to all its residents, "not on grounds of justice but for the sake of a more effective exercise of morally required charity".

After playing a prominent role in the French Revolution, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death. Condorcet mentioned, very briefly, the idea of a benefit to all children old enough to start working by themselves and to start up a family of their own.

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The first social movement for basic income developed around in the United Kingdom. Bertrand Russell — argued for a new social model that combined the advantages of socialism and anarchism, and that basic income should be a vital component in that new society.

There they argued for the "introduction of an income paid unconditionally on a weekly basis to all citizens of the United Kingdom". They considered it a moral right for everyone to have the means to subsistence, and thus it should not be conditional on work or willingness to work.


Douglas was an engineer who became concerned that most British citizens could not afford to buy the goods that were produced, despite the rising productivity in British industry.

His solution to this paradox was a new social system called "social credit", a combination of monetary reform and basic income. In andthe Beveridge Committeeled by the British economist William Beveridgedeveloped a proposal for a comprehensive new welfare system of social insurance and selective grants.

Committee member Lady Rhys-Williams argued for basic income.

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She was also the first to develop the negative income tax model. Six pilot projects were also conducted with negative income tax. Then US president Richard Nixon once even proposed a negative income tax in a bill to the US Congress—but Congress eventually only approved a guaranteed income for the elderly and the disabled, not for all citizens.

Basic Income European Network, later renamed to Basic Income Earth Network, was founded in and started to arrange international conferences every two years. From the s, some people outside party politics and universities took interest.

In West Germany, groups of unemployed people took a stance for the reform. Basic income is currently discussed from a variety of perspectives—including in the context of ongoing automation and robotisation, often with the argument that these trends mean less paid work in the future, which would create a need for a new welfare model.

Several countries are planning for local or regional experiments with basic income or related welfare systems. Experiments in IndiaFinlandand Canadafor example, have received international media attention.

Several countries have used polls to investigate public support for basic income. Perspectives in the basic income debate[ edit ] Transparency and administrative efficiency[ edit ] Basic income is potentially a much simpler and more transparent welfare system than welfare states currently use.

The lack of means test or similar bureaucracy would allow for saving on social welfarewhich could be put towards the grant. The Basic Income Earth Network BIEN claims that basic income costs less than current means-tested social welfare benefits, and has proposed an implementation that it claims to be financially viable.

The outcomes of this program will be analysed by eminent economist Loek Groot, a professor at the University of Utrecht who hopes to learn if a guaranteed income might be a more effective approach.

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Poverty reduction[ edit ] Advocates of basic income often argue that it has a potential to reduce or even eradicate poverty. Money is like an access ticket to use those resources, and so to make people equally free to do what they want with world assets, the government should give each individual as many such access tickets as possible—that is, the highest sustainable basic income.

Karl Widerquist and others have proposed a theory of freedom in which basic income is needed to protect the power to refuse work. If some other group of people controls resources necessary to an individual's survival, that individual has no reasonable choice other than to do whatever the resource-controlling group demands.

Before the establishment of governments and landlords, individuals had direct access to the resources they needed to survive.

But today, resources necessary to the production of food, shelter, and clothing have been privatized in such a way that some have gotten a share and others have not. Therefore, this argument goes, the owners of those resources owe compensation back to non-owners, sufficient at least for them to purchase the resources or goods necessary to sustain their basic needs.

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