Exploring Universal Basic Income

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Exploring Universal Basic Income - A Guide to Navigating Concepts Evidence and Practices - 2019.pdf

At the time of writing this preface, electoral debates in India, which featured universal basic income (UBI) in a prominent way, just subsided; pilot programs are rolled out in several cities in the United States and Europe; a decade-long trial is under way in rural Kenya; and the World Bank is, through this very volume, issuing its first analysis on the matter. So why all this interest on a seemingly utopian and radical proposal of “just give cash to everyone”?
Interest in UBI is surely symptomatic of larger societal discomforts. The changing nature of work in higher-income countries demands that social protection systems co-evolve with it. While automation, globalization, and diversification of employment bolstered efficiency and productivity gains, median income and living standards have not always risen accordingly—and in some cases, they have been stagnant for decades. Lower-income contexts, where work arrangements have not changed as dramatically, face different challenges. Among them, pervasive poverty and informality, compounded with limited government capacities and revenues, are preventing hundreds of millions of people from accessing higher-productivity activities, being protected from risks, and building human capital.

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