ESPAnet is the leading comparative social policy conference in Europe. Jurgen De Wispelaere (Bath University) and Heikki Hiilamo (Helsinki University) are coordinating a stream on “The Political Economy of Basic Income: Opportunities, Constraints, Trajectories” for its upcoming conference on transformations of European welfare systems in Vilnius (Lithuania), on the 30th of August – 1st September 2018. The submission of papers ends on the 19th of March 2018.

The idea of granting each (adult) citizen an unconditional basic income, independent of means test or work requirement, has made major strides in recent policy debates across Europe. Several countries in Europe and North-America are experimenting with or planning basic income-inspired trials, while in other jurisdictions basic income is considered at the highest level of policy-making.

Mainstream policy actors embracing a proposal that until very recent was considered to be part of a radically utopian fringe raises a number of policy questions, which we expect the proposed abstracts to cover. What explains the current interest in the basic income proposal? Are we experiencing a genuine window of opportunity firmly embedding basic income into the policy process in mature welfare states, or are we instead witnessing a fad that is likely to fade when feasibility constraints are taken into account? What are the key policy determinants for understanding the feasibility and stability of basic income against the background of established institutions and policy configurations, as well as recent developments in European welfare states? Which social, economic and political factors affect the building of robust basic income constituencies and a stable political coalition across stakeholder groups and political actors? What challenges need to be overcome and which trajectories are most suited to pilot and/or institute a basic income? How must basic income models be adapted to accommodate political and institutional constraints? Does systematic variation in how different welfare regimes respond to political challenges explain the variation in basic income models under consideration?

This stream aims to advance the policy debate around basic income by critically examining these and related questions in the context of European welfare states. Our aim is to put the policy research into basic income on a firm theoretical and empirical footing, by selecting contributions that employ insights from recent welfare state and political economy research to examine aspects of basic income design and implementation. We are particularly interested in contributions that investigate novel aspects of and/or adopt novel methodologies in examining the political economy of basic income. We will also give priority to contributions that embrace a distinctively comparative focus to draw out the diversity of opportunities, constraints and trajectories in the basic income debate across European welfare states.

About Jurgen De Wispelaere

Jurgen De Wispelaere has written 7 articles.

Jurgen De Wispelaere is a former occupational therapist turned political theorist and policy scholar. He is an ISRF Political Economy Research Fellow and a Policy Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research (Universiy of Bath). Previously he worked at the University of Tampere (Finland), forming part of the Kela-led research team preparing the basic income experiment in Finland, and before that at universities in Montreal, Barcelona, Dublin and London. His major research interest is the political analysis of basic income, which was the topic of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Tampere. Jurgen has published extensively on basic income in leading international journals as well as specialist edited volumes. He is a founding co-editor of the journal Basic Income Studies (with Karl Widerquist) and co-edited Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research (Wiley 2013). He is currently working on a short book on basic income experiments (with Evelyn Forget) and preparing The Routledge Handbook of Basic Income (with Louise Haagh). Jurgen was the co-convenor of the 2014 BIEN Congress in Montreal and a member of the local organising committee of the upcoming 2018 BIEN Congress in Tampere. He is a big fan of death metal and believes a basic income would provide much needed support for the underground music scene.