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Why Basic Income’s Emancipatory Value Exceeds Its Monetary Value


  • Standing Guy

    () (Professor of Development Studies, SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)


This article argues that the emancipatory value of a basic income is greater than its monetary value, drawing on the results of a large-scale basic income scheme conducted in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh between 2010 and 2013. The scheme was evaluated by comparing households in villages where everyone received a small cash payment each month with households in similar villages where no one did. The evaluation results showed much stronger than anticipated benefits of a very modest basic income, equivalent to about a third of subsistence. It is argued here that this arises because cash payments alleviate the contrived scarcity of money itself, a cause of chronic indebtedness and impoverishment. Using data and illustrative case studies on debt, savings and financial inclusion, the article demonstrates how a basic income improves economic security beyond its monetary value, which can be termed its emancipatory value. It further concludes that a basic income would have an emancipatory effect for the growing precariat around the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Standing Guy, 2015. "Why Basic Income’s Emancipatory Value Exceeds Its Monetary Value," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 193-223, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bistud:v:10:y:2015:i:2:p:193-223:n:4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007. "The Economic Lives of the Poor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 141-168, Winter.
    2. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1993. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing, and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investment in Bullocks in India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 223-244, April.
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