Does A Universal Basic Income Discourage Work?


As the debate has raged about the impact technology will have on employment, the concept of the universal basic income (UBI) has been a popular riposte for those who believe in the darker side of automation.  The rationale goes that so overwhelming will be the impact be on jobs that a basic income paid out to all is required to stop society descending into chaos.

It's a concept that has gained a number of high profile supporters, with the likes of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes outlining support for his own version of UBI in his recent book Fair Shot.

On the surface, it's a tantalizing prospect.  Hughes argues that many people cannot adapt because they lack the 'bandwidth' required to do so, whether in terms of spare time or resources.  He believes this is the main reason why poorer people tend not to capitalize on educational opportunities, even when they're free.

Critics of UBI fear that it will inevitably lead to fecklessness as people stop striving and settle into a life of relative luxury.  It's an argument that is largely debunked by a recent study examining the impact of UBI on the population of Alaska.

Discouraging work?

The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program has been in place for the past 25 years, with money distributed from the oil reserve royalties earned in the state.  The unconditional cash payments amounts to $2,000 per Alaskan resident.

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