Van Parijs and Vanderborght, respectively professors of economic and political science, make a sturdy ethical and philosophical argument for the provision of universal basic income (UBI), “a regular income paid in cash to every individual member of a society, irrespective of income from other sources and with no strings attached.” Such income, they assert, can deliver on the democratic ideal and help secure basic economic security for all. Their argument rests on several current workforce trends: accelerating automation, slower and narrower economic growth, and decreasing ecological resources. It also rests, later, on a critique of the ultimate effectiveness of welfare programs. The book’s first half examines UBI’s history in Western thought; the second moves to imagining its practical applications. With diligent care and occasional graphs, the authors examine moral and economic objections to UBI and difficulties of implementing it. They show that discussion of and support for UBI is growing (the Swiss have come the closest in recent years with a 2016 national referendum) but also acknowledge that rightward political shifts in the U.S. and Europe make it far less likely that UBI will take root there. Pitched more toward academics than lay readers, this thorough, thoughtful study will undoubtedly become a much-cited landmark work on its subject. (Mar.)
In this important introduction to the ‘basic income’ initiativean economic proposal that may radically transform the nature of the modern economy and societytwo leading social scientists examine the ethics and economics of the proposed move. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the problems of deprivation and unfreedom that survive even in the richest countries in the world. The remedial reasoning presented by Van Parijs and Vanderborght is powerful as well as highly engaginga brilliant book.
The idea of a universal basic income has been around for quite a while, but has the time for it finally arrived? This superb, closely argued book makes the case for the affirmative answer. While the authors do not hide their sympathies, they approach their subject with a philosopher’s care for ethical justification, a historian’s focus on the antecedents, an economist’s concern for incentives, an empiricist’s respect for evidence, and a practitioner’s attention to feasibility.
The West is awash these days in populist movements that cloak repressive and inegalitarian agendas. In these troubled times, an unconditional basic income is a beacon: a workable proposal that furthers freedom and equality for all. In this book, two modern pioneers of the UBI make the moral and practical case for endowing everyone with the resources to shape a life of their own choosing.
This is a major contribution to the effort to design a realistic program for achieving social justice in the twenty-first century.
Van Parijs (economics & social ethics, Univ. catholique de Louvain, Belgium) and Vanderborght (political science, Univ. Saint-Louis, Brussels) argue for providing everyone a basic income. By basic income, they mean a regular, obligation-free payment of tax-free cash to every person without eligibility requirements. For example, every adult might receive $1,000 per month. The authors cite as benefits poverty reduction, freedom to choose work, a reduction of unemployment and underemployment, and greater economic equity. They review the historical origins of the idea, objections, alternative methods, funding, economic effects, the political climate, and threats from globalization. They conclude that implementing a basic income policy will come in steps probably through backdoor avenues. The concrete proposal for reducing economic inequality makes it a good complement to Thomas Piketty's best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century. VERDICT This work, while certainly controversial to some readers, is a sober and well-argued study of the basic income concept. Though the authors' use of jargon is kept to a minimum, the depth of their arguments makes this volume best suited to readers with either an academic background or a strong interest in the topic.--Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA
Will be essential for the ongoing debate.
New Scientist - Ben Collyer
The book is likely to become a primer on core debates, such as the scheme’s overall feasibility, but its most striking aspect is how the authors make their argument. They justify a basic income not as a tool with which to address inequality, but rather as an ‘instrument of freedom.’
Provid[es] argument after argument as to why [basic income’s] introduction would be ‘economically clever’ and why it is the next logical step to take in a long history of social policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality. Their proposals are not only clear but also extremely pragmatic…The value of this book is that, more comprehensively than any other study yet, it explains why an obligation-free income for all would be so beneficial, and it also charts how this could be incrementally attained.
Times Higher Education - Danny Dorling
What matterswhat will lift the heart of every reader of
Basic Incomeis that Van Parijs and Vanderborght have enlisted the rigor and scruple of first-rate social science in the service of a generous social vision that is at least as old as Saint Ambrose and as up-to-date as Pope Francis. Our sensible and humane descendantsthey are bound to be sensible or humane, since humanity would otherwise have long since succumbed to nuclear or environmental catastrophewill doubtless wonder, with the easy impatience of posterity, what we were waiting for. They may, in fairness to us, decide that we were waiting for books like this.
Commonweal - George Scialabba
Van Parijs and Vanderborght have done the discussion of a universal basic income a great service. They have set forth, clearly and comprehensively, what is probably the best case to be made today for this form of economic and social policy.
New York Review of Books - Benjamin M. Friedman
Van Parijs and Vanderborght go deep, focusing exclusively on a universal guaranteed income and examining a range of philosophical, practical and political arguments for and against it. In considered, often enlightening, prose, they delve into John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin and Amartya Sen. They look at a number of alternative schemes; they discuss various objections to guaranteed income programs, including those over cost, free riding, and the possibility of diminished incentives.
Financial Times - Akash Kapur
Although their goal is utopian, Van Parijs and Vanderborght aim to infuse it with economic and political realism…What Van Parijs and Vanderborght bring to this topic is a deep understanding, an enduring passion, and a disarming optimism.
Washington Post - Steven Pearlstein
Basic Income provides a rigorous analysis of the many arguments for and against a universal basic income, offering a road map for future researchers who wish to examine policy alternatives.
Wall Street Journal - Marc Levinson
A meticulously comprehensive, frequently persuasive accounting of [universal basic income’s] superiority by measures economic, philosophical, and pragmatic.
New Yorker - Nathan Heller