The first episode of the year in the Social Protection Podcast brings a radical proposal for extending social protections: the Universal Basic Income, or UBI.

Fundamentally, a universal basic income is a benefit provided in cash without conditions to everyone. It is a large topic that has been generating heated discussions in the social protection field for many years now. In that sense, we divided this discussion into two episodes.

This episode focuses on the UBI and the World of Work. Fears around automation and the changing nature of work fuel popular and policy interest in the UBI. But the prevailing narrative that welfare makes people lazy and less inclined to work may be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome if a UBI is ever to be achieved.

The episode unpacks the evidence around whether a UBI could change the way we value work and what that could mean for gender equality and workers’ bargaining power. It also looks at how arguments for and against the UBI play out across the political spectrum.

In the second episode, the discussants reflect on the ways UBI fits in with social protection systems. The truth is that despite many pilots and trials in countries as diverse as Kenya, Canada, and Finland, no country has managed to implement a full UBI. Drawing from these experiences, we address what is commonly the number one objection to making UBI a reality – namely, cost. More specifically, we delve into aspects of affordability (How can countries finance it? How generous should it be?), equity (How to address specific deficits?), and, ultimately, its feasibility (Can it ever be achieved?).

The discussants for both episodes are:

  • Francesca Bastagli, Director of the Equity and Social Policy program and Principal Research Fellow at ODI. 
  • Jurgen De Wispelaere, Assistant Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and Adjunct Professor in Philosophy of Social Policy at Tampere University 

About Peter Knight

Peter Knight has written 34 articles.