Basic Income will be a major stream at the ESPAnet conference in Leuven, Belgium, 2-4 September 2020

“Basic income across Europe: Exploring variation in proposals, policy windows, and trajectories”

Stream convenors: Jurgen De Wispelaere, Tim Vlandas and Hanna Schwander

The basic income proposal has generated exponential policy (and public) interest in a short time span. In many countries a majority of the population expresses support for a basic income, several recent prominent experiments have been launched, and a basic income has been mentioned in several recent elections and was the subject of a referendum in Switzerland.

This stream has two objectives. First, to examine what might explain the current policy interest. In addition to better understanding how to interpret the current momentum — a genuine policy window or a passing fad? — we are seeking contributions that theorise and empirically explore this resurgence. We are especially interested in possible answers to the puzzle of why basic income features prominently in policy debates yet still appears to resists policy implementation. A second objective is to explore where to go next, both academically and politically for supporters of a basic income. What are the wider theoretical implications of this mixed and varying support for the politics and economics of social policy in advanced economies? What are the leading avenues to maintain policy interest in basic income? What are the main political and policy challenges to overcome? What are the most feasible pathways or trajectories to move towards some form of basic income? What pre-existing policies or institutions serve as stepping stones that might promote basic income policy implementation under current conditions?

Answers to these questions have to account for the specific political and policy context that is present in different European countries, which in part accounts for why basic income proposals and the ongoing debate shows considerable cross-country variation, often at odds with prominent political economy typologies. We are particularly interested in papers that advance the comparative understanding of basic income variation across Europe employing diverse theoretical frameworks and empirical methods.

To apply to participate, send an abstract to the organizers.

Deadline for abstract submission is 15 April 2020. More info at

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 983 articles.

Karl Widerquist is a Professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University-Qatar, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and a member of the BIEN EC for 14 years. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal "Basic Income Studies," the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including "the Prehistory of Private Property (Edinburgh University Press 2020, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) , "A Critical Analysis of Basic Income Experiments" (Palgrave Macmillan 2018), "Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy" (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and "Freedom as the Power to Say No" (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website ( More information about him is available on his BIEN profile ( He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for "Basic Income News."