David Calnitsky has recently published a paper analyzing the impact of basic income on the labor market, on the Socio-Economic Review Journal. The Abstract reads as follows:


“How do firms react when the whole labor force has access to a guaranteed income? One view argues that the guaranteed income is an employer subsidy, facilitating low wages and a ‘low-road’ industrial strategy. The second view suggests that in providing an alternative to work, the guaranteed income tightens labor markets and pulls wages up. This article examines the impact of an understudied social experiment from the late 1970s called the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment, or Mincome. This research focuses on Mincome’s ‘saturation’ site, the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, where all residents were eligible for unconditional payments. Using an archived survey of local firms that inquires into wage rates, applications, hiring, and work hours, I find support for the second view. I close by examining the mechanisms behind the employer subsidy argument and considering the conditions under which a variety of income-support policies might increase or decrease wages, and more broadly, foster compromise or conflict in the labor market.”


Calnitsky concludes in this article that it is unlikely that business organizations will come to support basic income, if it can be shown to increase the bargaining power of workers. However, dependent on certain implementation details, basic income can be made to facilitate exploitation by employers, rather than obstruct it. For instance, if it replaces some welfare state functions, leaving people less economically safe as a result, and hence more vulnerable to (economical) abuse. At the very end, he also reminds readers that support for basic income may be more efficient if made upon “the policy features themselves, rather than a generic proposal suffering from overly malleable and mutable definitions.”


More information at:

David Calnitsky, “The employer response to the guaranteed annual income”, Socio-Economic Review Journal, February 16th 2018

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