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Basic income calculator shows policy’s feasibility

One of the biggest objections to the universal basic income, especially from libertarians and conservatives, is that it is far too costly to implement. Among OECD countries, however, this is largely untrue.

The Economist recently unveiled a Basic Income Calculator that can illustrate how much each person could receive under a UBI by scrapping existing non-health related welfare. The United States would be able to achieve a $6,300 basic income.

To reach a $10,000 basic income, the U.S. government would need to use an additional seven percent of GDP. This would still keep the United States at welfare spending below many other OECD countries as a percentage of GDP.

Seven countries already spend more than $10,000 per person on non-health welfare and could decrease their spending under a UBI.

To see the full Economist basic income calculator, click here.
Data Team, “Daily chart: Universal basic income in the OECD”, The Economist, June 3, 2016.

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.


  • Joyce Ireson

    I would not want to give up my state pension unless UBI was sufficient to live on free from all means testing.There are too many variations how to proceed & bearing in mind how many years UBI negotiations have been discussed unless someone takes the initiative with a pilot this could go on indefinitely.I am also concerned how it could affect the NHS.

    • Andy

      State pension is an extra that we pay into when we work I believe. I think we would still get our pensions.

    • Andrew

      No a pension is paid by the government. I think you are referring to superannuation. As for Joyce’s concerns, yes I think the UBI would have to at least match what is currently expected in a pension, or at least still remain at a level which covers the difference from a lower UBI.

  • John Getson

    a UBI alone is not the panacea that so many need and want it to be… but combine it with other changes, like to the income tax code that removes the significant tax advantage that “unearned” or capital income (dividends, capital gains, profits, etc) has over “earned” income (wages and salaries) – treat every single dollar of income exactly the same as any other, regardless of the source… or the quantity.

    Having a national (or contentental) public transportation system organized on the backbone of a hub and spoke system that is rail-centric for long and medium range, large tractor trucks / buses for medium/shorter range and finally small trucks/vans for short/local range movement of both people AND all manner of goods.

    A national/continental distributed generation AND storage energy grid, Paid for post secondary education in exchange for a period of service IN THE FOELD OF STUDY whereever there is a need (similar to a military posting) could also
    reduce the amount that would actually be required in the UBI calculations

  • Carol Lane

    What happens to Social Security?

  • If you add in tax benefits that supplement non-living wages in the U.S. there would be more than enough money to pay for a Basic Income, as this article in the NY Times shows: even though it doesn’t recommend a Basic Income:
    “In terms of direct spending on social welfare, the United States seems miserly compared with many other developed nations. But according to a recent study for the Peterson Institute for International Economics by Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, this is an illusion. When tax-favored private social spending is combined with public spending, American public expenditures at 20.8 percent of G.D.P. are only a little lower than the average in 21 states of the European Union.”
    Nearly 21% of GDP ought to be enough to provide for basic subsistence.

  • Peter Cohen

    Sadly, this calculator misses an EXTREMELY important step. Concurrent with creating a basic income, the tax system is restructured so as to tax the benefit back, progressively, from those above a certain minimum standard of living. Most middle class and up people would in net, gain nothing extra from the basic income, they have no need of it. By taxing back the benefit this way, it adds a HUGE extra amount to the pool, effectively more than doubling the figures in the quoted chart.

  • michihiro watanabe

    I publish a book entitled [HumankindTtrsanscends Death-From Economic Society to the Society for the Striving for Eternity] from Maruzen this December,Seven out of 31chapters of which are devoed to economic matters. I claims tha t current capitalism economy shoud be replaced by thhe Creative Economy which aims at creativity rather than profits. I quote Mr hiroshi Harada, a member of governing Boad of the Bank of Japanwho claims that 8ooo dollars annual BI is financially biable in Japan. I hope that my book instigate the debates on BI in Japan.


  • rplende

    The best source for funding a Basic Income is a Robin Hood Tax on Speculative and Derivatives trading and on Foreign Exchange Trading. Also a debits transaction tax on everything. The percentages only need be minimal to produce more than enough to fund a healthy basic income. For instance in 2013 the amount of money traded on the FOREX was 14 Trillion Dollars per day. Yes that was per day not per year. The means for funding it is there but the stinking rich man won’t want to pay anything for it.

  • With Australia, it would probably mean a phasing out of the superannuation system which would allow for a lot more money would be available for a universal basic income. It doesn’t count as part of government revenue, but is taken out before you receive your paycheck. $6,100US or $8,100AU would have no chance of succeeding in Australia as even the very lowest payment for an adult on welfare is almost double that. For better or worse, we have a very targeted system.

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