By Yedidya Lau (Institute for Structural Reforms)

Recently, the government of Israel published a book containing its work plans for 2017-2018. This book accompanies each budget in order to clarify the main objectives that the government plans to carry out through the budget and place measurable outcomes. The new book contains for the first time, besides the plans of the different ministries, a work plan for the National Insurance Institute (NII). One of the objectives that the NII states is to promote reforms in the NII. In this context, the NII is aiming to examine the practicability of maintaining a model of Universal Basic Income in Israel.

This is the first time that an official government unit in Israel has raised the concept of UBI as a possible policy. More than 20 years ago, Prof. John Gal from the Hebrew University and Taub center called for examining UBI in Israel, and over the years he published many papers examining some aspects of it. Today, a variety of research institutes including Shahrit, Taub center, and the Institute for Structural Reforms, are considering UBI in Israel, from the philosophical and economic points of view. In the last months three conferences held discussions about UBI in Israel. A central speaker in all of them was Prof. Daniel Gottlieb, the Deputy Director General of Research and Planning in the NII, who recently introduced an initial examination of a scheme for UBI in Israel, and who is currently promoting the idea in the NII.

These developments are starting to be echoed in the public debate in Israel. For the first time, there are reports about UBI developments around the world, and articles considering UBI in Israel are beginning to rear their head in the Israeli economic press, followed by debates held in the social networks. The implementation of UBI still looks far away, but first steps towards deep examination of it, and the rise of public awareness to the concept, are slowly taking place.

Reviewed by Kate McFarland

Photo: Tel Aviv, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Ron Shoshani