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Nicolas Colin and Bruno Palier, “The next safety net”

The global economy is rapidly transforming as technology captures an increasingly greater share of human workforce, leaving many behind. The answer to this issue is a basic income guarantee, according to a recent Foreign Affairs article.

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In the last century, the welfare state has not kept up with technological development, as humanity transitions to a digital economy. There are still going to be winners and losers in this new economy, but stable and routinized jobs will largely go away to be replaced by intermittent ad hoc work, authors Nicolas Colin and Bruno Palier argue.

As a result, social services will have to be reorganized to meet this new economy’s needs. The article suggests a universal unconditional income as an alternative to provide people with the ability to choose jobs and lives as they want. However, Colin and Palier believe that unconditional income is both “extremely expensive and insufficient.”

In addition to a universal unconditional income, the article indicates that other structural reforms should be put in place, such as removing barriers to entrepreneurship. It advocates “flexicurity”, which the authors defines as guaranteeing access to health care, housing and other necessities, while also deregulating labor markets.

Nicolas Colin and Bruno Palier, “The Next Safety NetForeign Affairs, July/August 2015.

About Tyler Prochazka

Tyler Prochazka has written 84 articles.

Tyler Prochazka is a PhD candidate in Asia Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. He is the features editor of Basic Income News and the chairman of UBI Taiwan. Support my work with UBI Taiwan: @typro

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • This article argues against, not in favor, of a basic income. It argues in favor of Danish-style “flexicurity” instead of a basic income or government-guaranteed jobs.

  • DHFabian

    We need a system that can recognize reality. In reality, not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, and the US has maintained a downhill slide. It takes consumers to rebuild the job market. The more people in poverty, the fewer the consumer purchases, the fewer products need to be made, the fewer workers are needed, the more we grow poverty. We need something more than a simple dividend for the more fortunate, those who are already gainfully employed. While the issue is far too complex to address in a short comment, I would advise looking at the policy changes made in the US from the 1980s to today, which have resulted in the rather dramatic deterioration of the quality of life in the US.

    Denmark has a much higher quality of life rating than the US. Because of the policies we chose, the overall quality of life here went from #1 when Reagan was first elected, down to #43 by the time Obama was elected — well below Denmark (and 41 other nations. In the US, we ended basic poverty relief — welfare — back in the 1990s. (TANF is a short-term, marginally subsidized work program, exclusively for those with young children.) Legitimate social services would, require recognizing that not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all who urgently need one. US social services today are not designed to do this.

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