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Basic income on the agenda: Introductory chapter


  • L.F.M. Groot

    (SISWO/Netherlands Institute for the Social Sciences)

  • R. Van der Veen

    (Dept. of Political Science, University of Amsterdam)


A basic income is an income granted unconditionally to all on an individual basis, without a means test or work requirement. It is a type of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries. Considered in its pure form, a basic in-come is paid (1) to individuals rather than households; (2) irrespective of wealth or any in-come from other sources; and (3) without requiring the performance of any work or the will-ingness to accept a job if offered. Its relevance to the problems of contemporary welfare states has long been recognized. From the 1970s onwards, forms of basic income have been regu-larly proposed for adapting the post-war institutions of social transfer to the conditions of a modern economy, in which lifetime security through earned income is no longer the norm. The guiding claim was that an unconditional floor of guaranteed income is justified as the fairest and the most efficient way of reconstructing basic security in the welfare state. Inevita-bly, the fairness part of this claim led to a principled debate concerning the unconditional features of basic income, in particular the absence of the requirement of willingness to work. The reason for this is obvious, for any moral justification of unconditional basic income has to deal with the objection that it is unfair to hand out transfers to able-bodied persons who are merely unwilling to earn a living. This theme has been explored in depth in Arguing for Basic Income (1992). This book is divided in two distinct but interrelated parts, both of which reflect the main topics of the 1998 Congress of the Basic Income European Network. The first part, Policy Objectives , analyzes the potential of basic income vis-à-vis other policy schemes to achieve the above-mentioned goals of welfare state reform. The second part, entitled Political Sup-port , reviews the state of the debate on basic income in various European countries.

Suggested Citation

  • L.F.M. Groot & R. Van der Veen, 2003. "Basic income on the agenda: Introductory chapter," Public Economics 0302003, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:0302003
    Note: Type of Document - Word (PC); pages: 25; figures: none

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    basic income;

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H - Public Economics

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