Basic Income as a Response to New Economic Challenges
The article reviews the current debates on universal basic income and assesses the prospects for its implementation. In 2020, the idea of unconditional cash payments gained a significant number of new supporters. This was partly due to the vibrant political campaign of Andrew Yang, who took part in U.S. Democratic primaries, advocating the introduction of the so-called freedom dividend for all Americans, regardless of their income level or labor status. However, a real surge in interest occurred against the backdrop of a global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced national governments to respond quickly to new social and economic challenges. In a number of East Asian countries, the authorities provided a one-time emergency assistance to the entire population. Compared to other types of direct payments (“helicopter money”), emergency basic income has shown several advantages. Due to its universal nature, it covers all citizens, including those who are completely or partially excluded from existing social protection systems. Moreover, in organizational terms, it is much easier to directly transfer an equal sum of money to everyone, especially in conditions of self-isolation. In Western countries, however, the probability of transition to basic income, even in its emergency form, is still rather low. Preference will be given to traditional measures aimed at supporting the unemployed and other vulnerable groups. At the same time, the current crisis has already revived discussions about the effectiveness of existing social protection systems, which will play into the hands of political forces offering new approaches to welfare reform.
Kvashnin Y. Basic Income as a Response to New Economic Challenges. Analysis & Forecasting. Journal of IMEMO, 2020, no 3, pp. 13-23. https://doi.org/10.20542/afij-2020-3-13-23