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Universal Basic Income could directly reduce work-related stress

Dr. Matthew Johnson. Picture credit to: Lancaster University

Dr. Matthew Johnson, in an article published on LabourList, examines the effects of universal basic income (UBI) on stress. He co-authors with Elliot Johnson a paper with the title Stress, domination and basic income: considering a citizens’ entitlement response to a public health crisis”.

The paper is partially based on an international and interdisciplinary study, involving a team of more than thirty academics, titled A Cross-cultural Working Group on Good Culture and Precariousness, on how to identify and promote a culture capable of fostering the welfare of disadvantaged groups in societies in which accomplishment requires exposition to high degrees of socio-economic insecurity.

“We are facing a crisis of stress”, Johnson says, as researchers have shown that almost half of the cases of work related ill-health are due to stress, with a quarter of people in the United Kingdom affected by stress-related long-term health conditions, which weight heavily on medical expenses. If you have suffered illness due to stress then you may be able to get compensation from your workplace, you might want to contact a workmans comp attorney to see if you could take legal action.

While the mechanism connecting chronic stress to ill-health is still debated, there is a general consensus that stress contributes to a large breadth of conditions, he adds, and studies have shown that as the position in the workplace hierarchy decreases, physiological measures of stress increase, correlating with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. It can be read in the cited paper: “The cause of stress in these circumstances is what the republican political philosopher, Philippe Pettit, has termed ‘domination’: being subject to arbitrary decisions of others made without reference to the interests of those affected by the decisions.”

Accusing neoliberal reforms involving promotion of flexibility as having exacerbated the problem, Johnson calls for an effort in promoting “freedom as non-domination”, in order to lessen the role of hierarchy in social relations which could be done through the implementation of UBI.

As John McDonnell of the Labour Party announced that the next Labour Party Manifesto may include a trial of UBI, the author stresses the need for it to also measure the physiological implications of stress, which would be an innovation in what concerns UBI trials.


More information at:

Matthew Johnson, “Universal Basic Income can directly reduce work-related stress”, LabourList, August 20th 2018

About Daniele Fabbri

Daniele Fabbri has written 18 articles.

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.


  • Thank you so much for all you are doing

  • More about BI.
    Many corps who self-fund insurance were a $million or more behind. They $bonused and included meaningful incentives to the sick & overweight to change diets & exercise & in 1 year their self-insurance funds had huge $surpluses.
    The employees were bragging about how healthy they were getting. Sick days plummeted. Vacation days were spent enjoying various activities.
    Message? Eat right & you heal faster & DON’T GET SICK. Eat wrong . Sit too often – STAY SICK. GET SICKER.
    The Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All exchanges leave power in the hands of private insurance companies. Medicare for All takes power away from those companies and puts it in the hands of a public agency that is accountable to the public.

    BUT that public agency needs to require personal responsibility for what we stick in our mouths. Realize that the dollar profit system creates and pays for the ads that sell the mostly lifeless foods and illness causing side effect prescription drug usage on mass media. Special interests in Washington, DC tip the scales toward the profit motives of the those companies. They treat “sickness, not health. If people got healthy these companies would go out of business.
    Reducing Prescription Drug Costs Is way off target. They treat symptoms not causes. We can and need to the REDUCE their TRILLION DOLLAR MISUSAGE by 90%: take responsibility for what we eat; no fried or packaged foods, pizza, dairy, red meat, or public TV ads & eat a mostly plant-based diet and exercise moderately.
    That would be a huge step towards creating a universal basic income to offset the job loss due to the tech and automation revolution. Right now it is tech first and humans second. This needs to be reversed to Humans First and Tech Second. But the HUMANS must participate by taking personal responsibility for their health.

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