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How can a basic income be defended?


  • Guillaume Allegre

    (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques)


Following the submission of 125,000 signatures collected by organizations (including BIEN Suisse) supporting the establishment of a basic income, Swiss citizens will vote in a referendum on a popular initiative to include the principle of an unconditional basic income in the Swiss Federal Constitution. While a basic income, which is defended by Vanderborght and Van Parijs (2005) under the term "universal allocation", can take many forms, its principles are that it is paid (1) on a universal basis, in an equal amount to all 3, without testing for means or needs, (2) on an individual basis and not to households, and (3) unconditionally, without requirement of any counterpart. It can be defended from both a liberal-libertarian perspective as a replacement for existing benefits and social insurance (with Friedman often cited in this sense, although his negative tax proposal is fora family-based system; Capitalism and Freedom, p. 159),or from a progressive standpoint, in which case the basic income would be added to most existing benefits and social insurance. It is more in this second sense that the BIEN (2013) advocates a basic income, although the liberal aspect of the measure is also assumed: "It's the most liberal solidarity principle one can get, as it ensures individual existence and social cohesion, without the rigidity of interventionism and no oppressing bureaucracy." A progressive version would add a fourth characteristic: it must be (4) in an amount sufficient to cover basic needs and enable participation in social life.

Suggested Citation

  • Guillaume Allegre, 2014. "How can a basic income be defended?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/25qafebie49, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/25qafebie49csbsal9hbmifkr5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Luc Arrondel & Anne Laferrère, 1992. "Les partages inégaux de successions entre frères et soeurs," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 256(1), pages 29-42.
    2. Koulovatianos, Christos & Schroder, Carsten & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2005. "On the income dependence of equivalence scales," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 967-996, June.
    3. Guillaume Allègre, 2011. "Le RSA : redistribution vers les travailleurs pauvres et offre de travail," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(3), pages 33-61.
    4. Jean-Marie Monnier & Carlo Vercellone, 2007. "Fondements et faisabilité du revenu social garanti," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00264266, HAL.
    5. Donaldson, D. & Pendakur, K., 1999. "Equivalent-Income Functions and Income-Dependent Equivalence Scales," Discussion Papers dp99-8, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    6. Michel Forsé & Maxime Parodi, 2006. "Justice distributive. La hiérarchie des principes selon les Européens," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 98(3), pages 213-244.
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    Cited by:

    1. Monnier Jean-Marie & Vercellone Carlo, 2014. "The Foundations and Funding of Basic Income as Primary Income," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1-2), pages 59-77, December.

    More about this item


    Basic income;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution


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