IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Basic Income and the Problem of Cumulative Misfortune


  • Wigley Simon

    (Bilkent University)


This paper defends a regularly paid basic income as being better equipped to tackle unfair inequalities of outcome. It is argued that the timing of "option-luck" failures in particular, whether they occur early in a lifetime of calculated gambles, and whether they are clustered together may lead to a form of "brute bad luck," referred to as "cumulative misfortune." A basic income that is paid on a regular basis provides a way to prevent the emergence of cumulative misfortune, because the basic income at least partially replenishes the individual's ability to take the next calculated gamble. The upshot of this is a nonpaternalistic justification for an unconditional basic income that is paid regularly and is nonmortgageable. This has an important bearing on the debate between those who advocate a one-off endowment at the start of adult life and those who advocate a basic income paid regularly throughout one's life. The paper contends that a regular basic income represents a superior social policy because it prevents the emergence of cumulative misfortune, rather than belatedly attempting to compensate for its effects during our senior years.

Suggested Citation

  • Wigley Simon, 2006. "Basic Income and the Problem of Cumulative Misfortune," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-14, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bistud:v:1:y:2006:i:2:n:5

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Widerquist Karl, 2006. "The Bottom Line in a Basic Income Experiment," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-5, December.
    2. Peeters Hans & Marx Axel, 2006. "Lottery Games as a Tool for Empirical Basic Income Research," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-7, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:bistud:v:1:y:2006:i:2:n:5. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.