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Taking the "G" out of BIG: A Comparative Political Economy Perspective on Basic Income


  • Boettke Peter J.

    (George Mason University)

  • Martin Adam

    (George Mason University)


Basic Income Guarantee proposals aim at, among other objectives, the salutary goal of providing a minimum income floor beneath which individuals cannot fall. We analyze this family of proposals through the lens of comparative political economy, arguing that politics is not an appropriate institutional environment for pursuing the end of an income floor. Once the notion of a guaranteed income is cast in realistic, probabilistic terms, it becomes a live question whether the market or the polity can better secure a Basic Income. Actual markets must be compared to real-world political processes rather than idealized policy proposals in order to ascertain their desirability. Drawing on the extant literature on the failure of political processes to realize the goals of other redistributive programs, we argue that Basic Income Guarantee proposals likewise ignore politics as practiced and are thus equally subject to critiques both of their means-ends coherence and their vulnerability to political opportunism.

Suggested Citation

  • Boettke Peter J. & Martin Adam, 2012. "Taking the "G" out of BIG: A Comparative Political Economy Perspective on Basic Income," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 6(2), pages 1-18, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bistud:v:6:y:2012:i:2:n:8
    DOI: 10.1515/1932-0183.1218

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Murray Charles, 2008. "Guaranteed Income as a Replacement for the Welfare State," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-12, November.
    2. Hayek, F. A., 2011. "The Constitution of Liberty," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226315379 edited by Hamowy, Ronald, November.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. Basic income objections
      by Julie Novak in Catallaxy Files on 2013-12-03 04:02:26


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    2. Adam Martin & Matias Petersen, 2019. "Poverty Alleviation as an Economic Problem," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 43(1), pages 205-221.

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