What is a universal basic income? This topic has been talked about in the political realm as well as in respect to automation and the future of work a lot lately, but it is not a new concept at all. Even in ancient Rome there were times when citizens would receive rations of wine, as it was seen as a necessary part of daily life. But the more modern concept of a universal basic income came from Thomas More’s Utopia at a time when the fabric of society was trending more toward egalitarianism and away from monarchies.
The benefits of a minimum income have long been proposed as a means of giving greater equality to those at the lowest levels of society, thereby increasing the quality of life for everyone and decreasing crime and hopelessness. The modern version of universal basic income is to be paid in cash and not goods or services so people may spend it on what they feel is their greatest need.
Politicians like Andrew Yang are proposing a universal basic income as a way to decrease the growing wealth gap in the United States. There are also people who think it would be a great way to mitigate the fallout from the next industrial revolution, when automation is slated to wipe out up to 30% of global work hours by 2030.
There are places throughout the world testing universal basic incomes with varying results. A test program in Finland found significant increases in confidence in personal financial situation as well as optimism for the future, as well as lesser gains in overall health and influence on society.
While this is seen as a potential solution to many different problems there are also plenty of arguments against the practice. Learn more about universal basic income and both the problems it could solve as well as create from the infographic below.