The World Bank has published a substantial report titled Exploring Universal Basic Income: A guide to navigating concepts, evidence, and practices

Universal basic income (UBI) is emerging as one of the most hotly debated issues in development and social protection policy. But what are the features of UBI? What is it meant to achieve? How do we know, and what don’t we know, about its performance? What does it take to implement it in practice? Drawing from global evidence, literature, and survey data, this volume provides a framework to elucidate issues and trade-offs in UBI with a view to help inform choices around its appropriateness and feasibility in different contexts. Specifically, the book examines how UBI differs from or complements other social assistance programs in terms of objectives, coverage, incidence, adequacy, incentives, effects on poverty and inequality, financing, political economy, and implementation. It also reviews past and current country experiences, surveys the full range of existing policy proposals, provides original results from micro–tax benefit simulations, and sets out a range of considerations around the analytics and practice of UBI.

The report can be downloaded free here.

Brief comment

The report employs throughout a definition of Universal Basic Income that matches BIEN’s definition of Basic Income. Consistency of definition is a commendable characteristic of the report as a whole.

The only caveat is that chapter 4 assumes that a UBI would replace existing social assistance provision. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that in some countries poverty and inequality would increase if the UBI were to be implemented. The authors do not simulate the option of leaving existing social assistance provision in place and reducing it by the extent of the UBI. In the context of a progressive tax system, such schemes would not increase poverty or inequality.

Apart from that, this is a most useful report.

About Malcolm Torry

Malcolm Torry has written 68 articles.