Towards an Historical Account of Universal Basic Income

On the 9th December, 2016, the Green Institute published the paper Can Less Work be More Fair: a discussion paper on Universal Basic Income and Shorter Working Week. As part of this release Green Agenda will be republishing a number of essay from the paper.

We start today with Elise Klein’s paper, “Towards an Historical Account of Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a simple idea which has been supported over the centuries by scholars and intellectuals including Thomas More, Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, Henry George, Bertrand Russell, Franklin Roosevelt and Tony Atkinson. Universal Basic Income unconditionally provides every resident (children and adults) of a particular geographic location, a regular and unconditional subsistence wage.

Scholars, activists, and politicians have argued that UBI has radical potential for societies around the world. Reviewing the contemporary literature, there are three main ways UBI has been talked about:

Continue reading →