Summary of On the Economics of a Universal Basic Income

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As automation and technology raise concerns about job losses, some economists and governments have floated the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) as a mechanism for ensuring citizens a minimal level of financial support. Under a UBI system, everyone receives unconditional lifetime cash payments that substitute for other forms of public aid. One of the best features of a UBI, according to Professor Thomas Straubhaar in his clearly argued essay, is its blindness to economic circumstance and judgment. getAbstract recommends his enlightening, albeit somewhat overly sanguine, report to those interested in the nexus between economics and social policy.

About the Author

Thomas Straubhaar is a professor of economics at the University of Hamburg, Germany.



The concept of a universal basic income (UBI) dates back to the 1800s, and its 20th-century advocates included economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who touted the UBI as a “negative income tax.” Under a UBI system, everyone would receive unconditional lifetime cash payments from the government to cover a subsistence-level standard of living, regardless of personal circumstance or need. It would substitute for all other forms of public aid. The governments of Finland and India are experimenting with UBI programs, while Swiss voters nixed a UBI...

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