Helicopter money and basic income: friends or foes?

Helicopter money and basic income: friends or foes?

Spurred by Milton Friedman, the concept of “helicopter money” – under which central banks would distribute money to citizens – is making headway in economic debate, but is often confused with the idea of basic income. This article intends to clarify the distinctions and overlaps between these two concepts.

“Let us suppose now that one day a helicopter flies over this community and drops an additional $1,000 in bills from the sky, which is, of course, hastily collected by members of the community. Let us suppose further that everyone is convinced that this is a unique event which will never be repeated.”

When Milton Friedman wrote those lines in 1969, he probably never thought that “helicopter money” would become a buzzword in the 2000s post-crisis era. Friedman’s thinking was indeed quite radically unorthodox. How did the prominent neoliberal advocate come to suggest people should receive free money and that we would all be better off as a result? Far from philanthropic thinking, Friedman was in fact simply trying to illustrate his theory of the neutrality of money. If you need to make more money, you should consider renting out your spare room.

What would happen if we were to drop freshly printed notes over a population from a helicopter, just like rain? Nothing other than inflation, suggested Friedman, one of his main beliefs being that any increase in the money supply automatically leads to a proportional increase in consumer prices. Through this thought experiment, Friedman drew the conclusion that central banks can always avoid deflation by producing money and causing it to circulate in the economy.

In fact, however, the idea that we could create money and distribute it to the people goes back much farther than Friedman. In 1924, British engineer Clifford Hugh Douglas elaborated his theory of the “social credit”, its main component being the distribution of a monthly “national dividend” generated from money creation, the level of which would vary according to national production.

Although Douglas did gain some notable following at the time, especially in Canada, the idea was ultimately consigned to the oubliettes of history, leaving Friedman with the alleged paternity of the idea, centre-staging the helicopter analogy with it.

The concept wasn’t much thought of for 30 years following Friedman’s discussion, however, and it might have been forgotten again if it hadn’t been brought back to public attention in 2002 by one of the most influential voices of monetary policy. In a famous speech, the Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke alluded to this concept, making the case that, under important deflationary trends like that seen in Japan, the central bank could resort to helicopter money-style instruments to achieve its 2% inflation target.

Yet, far from initiating serious consideration, these remarks only caused Bernanke to endure mockery and “helicopter Ben” as a persistent nickname.

This is probably because the concept runs counter to the whole ideological turn of the 20th century in terms of monetary policy. Starting from the 50s, money creation has been gradually shifted from the sphere of public sovereignty into the quasi-monopolistic realm of the private banking sector. This process ultimately resulted in the outright prohibition, in most jurisdictions, of monetary financing of government budgets. Helicopter money sounds very much like a reversal of this trend, and a dangerous one to the ears of many mainstream economists.

An alternative form of money creation

There is recurring confusion around the exact meaning of helicopter money, which is probably caused by the simple fact that the alleged proponent of the idea, Milton Friedman, never seriously intended to implement it.

Thus, the concept finds itself often described in very diverse terms, ranging from the old-fashioned monetization of public debt to its purest form (and probably the one Friedman actually had in mind): the distribution of money directly to all citizens by central banks. The latter will be the one we assess in this article.

Helicopter money can thus be defined as the creation of money, without corresponding assets, and its distribution into citizens’ bank accounts.

It is therefore an alternative form of money creation, which is strictly different from the most common way in which money is created today: through the banking sector’s credit issuance functions. It is worth clarifying this point here: as the Bank of England has clearly demonstrated, today’s monetary supply is almost entirely controlled by private banks issuing credit into the economy. This is sometimes referred to (somewhat misleadingly) as the “fractional reserve banking system”. Although the benefits and pitfalls of such an arrangement are subject to never-ending controversy between academics, the way in which this system functions is nowadays largely undisputed.

Money tree sculpture in front of the Central Bank of Ireland.

The key advantage of helicopter money resides precisely in the fact that it would bypass banks as money creators, and is therefore one way for the central bank to maintain the money supply regardless of whether banks play their role as suppliers of money into the economy. In its purest form, helicopter money also bypasses governments’ treasuries, and is therefore not legally prohibited under the monetary financing rule (Art. 123 of the EU Lisbon Treaty).

A second clarification is also required at this point: helicopter money is also different from the so called “quantitative easing” (QE) policies that have been implemented by several central banks, although they pursue a similar objective: boosting the money supply to avoid deflationary pressures.

Under QE, central banks create money (the so called central bank’s reserves) and mobilize those reserves to purchase financial assets on a large scale and over a certain period of time. Usually, central banks purchase sovereign bonds with the intention of pushing down interest rates on those bonds, to encourage the financial sector to move away from investing in sovereign bonds and to instead lend money to riskier projects under the so-called “portfolio rebalancing effect”. This type of money creation is therefore targeted to the financial sector, with assets as collateral on the central bank’s balance sheet and, more importantly, is a temporary operation: the central bank destroys the money once the bonds it holds come to maturation.

Helicopter money is therefore very different from QE. In fact, it is precisely because of the many shortcomings of QE that helicopter money is being presented by a growing number of people as a superior alternative.

Helicopter money as an alternative to quantitative easing

The assessments of QE programmes in the US, Japan, and the UK have been subject to a wealth of contradictory conclusions. In Europe, the ECB’s QE programme was first applauded as progress, after years of speculation and resistance to implementation of QE when it was desperately needed – when the Greek crisis hit. However, it is becoming clear that QE recipes, in Europe and elsewhere, never really do the trick.

Generally speaking, QE does cause lending conditions to improve, but it does not automatically lead to an increase in bank lending. In other words, the “transmission channel” of monetary policy does not work so well under QE. To be fair, this is not the banks’ fault: there is little banks can do when conditions are so bad that virtually no companies or households want to take on debt because the economy is already over-indebted.

Economists talk of a “liquidity trap” whereby injections of cash into the private banking system by a central bank fail to stimulate the real economy. QE doesn’t overcome this trap.

Even worse, QE is often accused of creating asset bubbles and increasing wealth inequality, because the massive injection of money is narrowly targeted towards financial asset disproportionately owned by the rich. The Bank of England itself estimates that its own QE programme has increased by 40% the wealth of the richest 5% of Brits.

Against this background, helicopter money is experiencing a comeback, perhaps with even more strength than Friedman could ever have imagined. Since the start of the crisis, prominent economists and commentators, including Martin Wolf, Steve Keen, Anatole Kaletsky, Willem Buiter, Adair Turner, John Muellbauer, Bradford Delong and Martin Sandbu, have advocated for central banks to implement some form of helicopter money. Anatole Kaletsky and Steve Keen almost simultaneously proposed re-branding the concept “QE for People”, which later became the name of a European campaign (for which the author currently works).

Conference about “Quantitative Easing for People” at the European Parliament

The case for QE for People is quite straightforward: since the banking sector is not currently able to “transmit” the central bank’s monetary policy accommodation by increasing their loan’s issuance, why shouldn’t the central bank do it by itself? If the main task of central banks is to maintain inflation at around 2%, certainly the most effective way would indeed be to distribute money to people so they can spend it.

The debate on helicopter money took another turn when it was mentioned by the ECB’s chief Mario Draghi, under the spotlights of a press conference on March 9th 2016 and later by other senior ECB officials. “Helicopter money is a very interesting concept” Draghi said, while adding that the idea was not yet being considered by the ECB. Whether one think this was sincere curiosity or a clumsy statement on Draghi’s part, the fact is this single sentence provoked a historic tide of comments and debate on the idea, including within policymaker spheres.

How about basic income?

Similarities between helicopter money and basic income have led some commentators to offer very confused explanations, claiming, for example, that Finland was already undertaking a “helicopter money” programme (the basic income experiment).

Undeniably, there are resemblances between the two concepts, as both involve making unconditional payments to all citizens and usually without means-testing. Basic income’s principles of universality and unconditionality can also be found in helicopter money.

Key differences quickly emerge under careful analysis, however. Under a helicopter money regime, there is no clear commitment from the central bank to make payments periodic. Quite the contrary in fact, as most proponents of helicopter money (read the prolific Eric Lonergan for example) are keen to be clear on the fact that this should be an exceptional measure, to be used on a one-off basis, with the possibility (but not the commitment) to renew if necessary.

There is nevertheless some theoretical overlap with basic income. In addition to Douglas, several key advocates of basic income have put forward the case that money creation could be used to finance the benefit, either as a “boot” phase or as a way to supplement the fiscal means to finance basic income schemes. The French economist Yoland Bresson made the case that perpetual low interest sovereign bonds could be used to kick off the basic income in a first stage, thus leaving time for the government to implement all the necessary reforms of the tax-benefit system to make UBI fully functional.

These theories relate to the understanding of basic income as a mechanism of pre-distribution (as opposed to redistribution), whereby basic income is a recognition of the intrinsic value of all participants in society, or even as common inheritance. If all citizens create value “because they exist”, then it makes sense to “pre-validate” this economic value using money creation. If we are all richer today because of our predecessors’ work and heritage, then one can argue that more money should be introduced into circulation to recognise this added wealth.

These are, however, only marginal justifications today, put forward to support neither helicopter money nor basic income. Beyond some theoretical common ground, the differences between the two policies are most clear when one understands that they pursue different objectives.

Put simply, helicopter money can be framed as a punctual measure (extreme, one may say) with a rather narrow purpose: to stimulate economic activity by boosting people’s incomes under some strict circumstances, that is, when the economy is under threat of deflation.

Basic income, on the other hand, pursues a very wide range of objectives from poverty alleviation to work emancipation, gender balance incentivization, social protection modernization, more aggressive redistribution and so on. In contrast, stimulating people’s purchasing power is certainly not the main argument for doing basic income.

From those different objectives also stem different institutional frameworks. If the objective of helicopter money’s proponents is merely to stimulate demand, then transfers to citizens is only one practical means by which to achieve this single clear goal. From this viewpoint, it also makes sense to give independent central banks the legal capacity to distribute a citizens’ dividend as a new instrument in the monetary policy toolbox.

If basic income pursues more numerous and complex objectives, by contrast, it then makes sense that it should be the responsibility of elected governments to design and implement it, just like any other fiscal policy.

In conclusion, helicopter money could be seen as one of many “partial basic income” proposals: schemes that share some of the characteristics of basic income but not all of them. Yet given the very clear institutional distinctions just covered, it does not make sense then to associate too closely the two concepts. In this light, it might be more meaningful to refer to helicopter money payouts as “social dividends” or “monetary dividends” as opposed to “basic income”.

Can helicopter money lead to basic income?

Despite all the institutional and practical distinctions drawn above, it is quite enlightening to recognize the political porosity between the two proposals. Helicopter money proponents tend to also favor basic income (though not all do) and vice versa.

This is probably because the two ideas, to some extent, share some common strategic interests and help one another in the struggle for cultural acceptance of each proposal, especially in regards to unconditionality and the disconnection of money from labor.

From a basic income viewpoint, the rise of the helicopter money discussion is a useful addition to basic income’s financing question. If central banks can create money, then surely it would be easier to finance a basic income.

On the other side, it is also convenient for helicopter money proponents that the basic income discussion is making headway in the argument for universal payments to citizens: it levies an important moral blocage.

Even more strategically, perhaps, there is a case for seeing helicopter money as a necessary step to the implementation of a full-fledged basic income policy.

This is a particularly relevant argument when it comes to the European Monetary Union, which is currently deprived of any significant common fiscal policy. Because of this, it will probably take years before we might see something like a eurodividend (an EU basic income scheme financed by an EU budget) as articulated by Philippe van Parijs.

Speech by Philippe van Parijs on the Eurodividend at the European Social and Economic Committee in Brussels.

To circumvent this cumbersome and very long-term political route, Slovenian economist Jože Mencinger has repeatedly suggested the use of helicopter money as an “ideal experimental possibility” to kick-start a form of basic income in the EU.

Instead of QE, the ECB could start a helicopter money scheme by giving 200 euros per adult citizens for one year – no strings attached, no taxes involved, simply courtesy of the ECB’s (digital) printing presses. This would involve about three times less money printing than under QE and yet would be more likely to fulfill the ECB’s objective.

If this works and garners favorable public opinion, there would be even greater political momentum for implementing something like a permanent eurodividend scheme. The ECB’s temporary scheme would allow some time for EU policymakers to create the institutional and fiscal infrastructure for such a eurodividend to be functional.

In the long run, nothing forbids us from thinking that the ECB could permanently fund such a eurodividend scheme at a certain level, as Kevin Spiritus and Willem Sas have sketched. Yet such funding cannot be seen as an obligation for the ECB under the current legal framework. More intellectual debate will be required before policymakers come to the conclusion that some form of permanent helicopter money is necessary and desirable.

There is still much work to be done before either basic income or helicopter money can be put in place. However, 10 years after the financial crisis, it is clear that central banks’ models have not delivered as they were expected to. There is clear mismatch between the massive size of their balance sheet interventions and the bleak outlook of the economy.

There is a growing case that the whole central banking theoretical framework must be revised. Helicopter money is certainly one idea that is usefully challenging the monetary policy status quo. It will surely take another leap of determination and audacity for central bankers to take this step forward, but we should not rule out that it might also be the most pragmatic thing central banks can do at some point in the future. When things get to this point, the basic income movement must stand ready to play its part in facilitating the move towards helicopter money, while making sure to build upon this gigantic central bank experiment towards a permanent and sustainable basic income.


Thanks to Genevieve Shanahan for proofreading this article.

Credit pictures: Courtesy Financial Times; Positive Money, picturesbyJOE, UBI-Europe

FRANCE: Pro basic income candidate set to win socialist primary election

FRANCE: Pro basic income candidate set to win socialist primary election

Vocal supporter of basic income, Benoit Hamon came out first in the first round of the socialist primary. He now stands a serious chance to become the Socialist candidate for the French presidential election.

Update 30/01/2017: As we predicted, Benoit Hamon has won the second round of the Socialist primary election. He will stand as presidential candidate for the elections.

The pro-basic income politician was designated as the winner of the first round of the French left-wing primary with 36% of the vote, ahead of the former Prime Minister Manuel Valls (31%) and Arnaud Montebourg (18%). Now he stands a big chance to become the socialist candidate in the presidential race.

Hamon immediately received the support of his fellow main competitor Montebourg for the second round of the election, which should secure his victory against the former Prime Minister Manuel Valls at the second round. The later is perceived as a pro-business and status quo candidate within the party and has lost a lot of momentum recently.

Sometimes described in the international media as the ‘French Jeremy Corbyn’, Hamon, 49 years old, was Education Minister and Minister for the Solidarity Economy under President François Hollande. He was pushed to resignation after a government reshuffle in August 2014.

Hamon’s victory comes as a big surprise as he was only polling around 11% in December. However his vibrant campaign received an increasing level of following until the finish line. In particular, Hamon made a great impression during the last TV debate, where he was designated as the best representative of the left’s values according to polls.

Hamon has developed a radically progressive platform including bold proposals such as basic income, working hours reduction, a tax on robots, a ‘popular referendum’ system similar to the one in Switzerland, the legalisation of cannabis and the recognition of blank votes (protest votes) in national elections.

However, basic income was by far the policy that has attracted the most attention – and critics. Over the past few weeks, virtually all media in France, from newspapers to TV stations, have extensively discussed the idea of the universal basic income.

Hamon proposes the gradual introduction of a basic income in France up to the level of 750 EUR. Under his plan, the first step would involve raising the level of the existing minimum income and extended it to people under 25 years old. In a second stage, a social and fiscal reform would lead to the full implementation of a basic income.

Many commentators and politicians said the policy is too expensive (around 300 billions euros), This misleading criticism showed the extent to which the mechanics of the basic income is not yet well understood.

The French movement for basic income (MFRB) rejoiced the outcome of the vote. “This is a big win, not just for Hamon but also for the idea of basic income. The result of the ballot is a proof that hundreds of thousands of people in France want basic income to be in the political agenda now. Hamon’s candidacy to the presidential election will ensure the continuity of the nationwide debate on this issue,” said MFRB spokesperson Nicole Teke.

The second round of the Socialist primary election will take place on January 29.


Credit picture CC Parti Socialiste

European Parliament’s legal affairs committee wants to look into basic income in light of robots threat

European Parliament’s legal affairs committee wants to look into basic income in light of robots threat

The European Parliament will vote on a report calling on the European Commission and all EU member states to “seriously consider” basic income in order to address the economic consequences of automation and artificial intelligence.

On Thursday 12 January, European Parliament’s committee on Legal affairs (JURI) adopted a report on “Civil law rules on roboticswhich considers the legal and economic consequences of the rise of robots and artificial intelligence devices.

According to the report, since “robots, bots, androids and other manifestations of artificial intelligence (“AI”) seem poised to unleash a new industrial revolution, which is likely to leave no stratum of society untouched, it is vitally important for the legislature to consider all its implications. There are many tools claiming to be the best tool for machine learning and if these keep developing can artificial intelligence become a real threat to human job roles?

It reads further: “the development of robotics and AI may result in a large part of the work now done by humans being taken over by robots, so raising concerns about the future of employment and the viability of social security systems if the current basis of taxation is maintained, creating the potential for increased inequality in the distribution of wealth and influence”

To cope with those consequences, the report makes a strong call for basic income. “A general basic income should be seriously considered, and (the European Parliament) invites all Member States to do so.”

The resolution is based on a report prepared by the Working Group on Legal Questions Related to the Development of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, established in January 2015.

This legislative initiative is however not legally binding. If adopted in February by the European Parliament’s full house, the EU Commission would be invited to present a legislative proposal but it can also refuse to do so.

The Commission is not entirely unaware about basic income. Last year, Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said she would follow with great interest the outcomes of the basic income experiments currently underway in Finland.

The rapporteur of the report, Socialist MEP Mady Delvaux, said she was satisfied that basic income was included by the JURI Committee at this stage.

However she expressed doubt that the idea would survive the plenary vote. In a statement published on the website of the Socialist and Democrats group at the European Parliament, the MEP explained:

“As social democrats, it is urgent that we look at new models to manage society in a world where robots do more and more of the work. One idea adopted in this report is to look at a universal basic income – where everyone would receive a wage from the government whether they are in work or not.”

Mady Delvaux MEP

Barb Jacobson, Chair of Unconditional Basic Income Europe said, “We are very pleased Mme Delvaux mentioned basic income in this report, and we hope that Parliament and the Commission will give it serious consideration along with rules about the use of robots. The benefits of automation should be enjoyed by all members of society, not just those companies which directly benefit from it.”

UBI-Europe urges European basic income supporters to get in touch with their MEPs to make sure this aspect of the report reaches the Commission.”

“Whether automation ends up destroying a larger proportion of jobs or not, however, incomes are already increasingly insecure, and in most parts of Europe wages have stagnated or fallen. While many member states are starting to take basic income seriously, the need is urgent. The EU could help lead the way with its own Eurodividend,” added Nicole Teke, Secretary of UBI-Europe.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the final report on the week of February 13.


Pictures CC European Parliament

FRANCE: Prime Minister Pledges Again to Open the Debate on Basic Income

FRANCE: Prime Minister Pledges Again to Open the Debate on Basic Income

Twice in a week, the French socialist Prime Minister raised the topic of basic income, pledging to open up the discussion on how to modernize the country’s welfare system.

Updated on 26/10 after Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement on basic income.

For a second time this week and third time this year Manuel Valls, the French Prime minister, mentioned basic income as a possible way forward.

In a statement on his Facebook page, the minister said: “We need to open up new paths. Here is one: a universal income, a single benefit, open to all starting from 18, replacing a dozen existing benefits. The government will engage a dialogue with all stakeholders in order to build a flexible, simple and therefore more efficient solution for all individual situations. I think this debate should be opened. In order to go further! To reinforce our social model!”

“We know how much complexity increases inequality. Having access to a minimal income should not be an obstacle race,” Valls also said earlier this week at a ceremony in remembrance of Michel Rocard, a prominent figure of French Left and spiritual father of the RMI, the first minimum income scheme implemented in France in 1988.

Back in April, Valls made strong commitments to modernize and simplify the welfare system in France. This happened after the Government published a report outlining bold recommendations to simplify and modernize France’s welfare system. Although the report doesn’t endorse basic income, it provides an in-depth analysis of the idea, and offers ambitious policy proposals that could pave the ways towards UBI. In particular, it proposes to extend the eligibility criteria of the current minimum income scheme to people from 18 to 25 years old, to make benefit payments automatic, and to partly individualize the benefits.

At the time, Valls committed the government to look into the proposals and speed up the implementations of the proposed measures.

Ambiguous statements

However, the Prime Minister has always been ambiguous in defining “basic income”. Speaking of a “universal income” in an earlier confused statement this year, he made it clear that he believed that such a system should be means-tested. According to him, universal income should not be “paid to everyone including those who have sufficient income – it would be too costly and meaningless – but a targeted grant to all of those who really need it.”

Race to the elections

With the French general elections in the horizon (May 2017) and the primaries campaign hitting the media everyday, French politicians are quickly joining the basic income camp, especially on the Left.

Already several candidates have publicly supported basic income in the context of their Party primaries. In the Greens, all candidates support the measure (Karima Delli, Yannick Jadot, Michèle Rivasi, Cécile Duflot). In the Socialist Party, Benoît Hamon recently announced his strong support for the idea. Emmanuel Macron, who recently left his post as Minister of the Economy to focus on his electoral campaign also said he is interested in the idea.

Among the conservatives, MP Frédéric Lefebvre has become a vocal UBI supporter and was intending to run as candidate for the Party’s primaries, but he did not collect enough sponsors. In the meantime, former President Nicolas Sarkozy who is trying to make is political come-back and run the election again said he is against UBI. However he is in favor of a single benefit scheme which would be a move towards UBI. ” I want those who live on the welfare state to be obliged to accept a job, a training or to do volunteering for the community” Sarkozy explained.

Other socialist candidates including Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Arnaud Montebourg and Marie-Noëlle Lienemann are also known to be sympathetic to the idea but have not made committing statements so far.

Behind the growing fear of the rise of the Far-right’s Front National, chances have never been so high for France to seriously look into the the possibility to adopt a basic income, or at least to implement paving stones towards it.


Picture: CC Parti Socialiste

Europe: 64% of People in Favour of Basic Income, Poll Finds

Europe: 64% of People in Favour of Basic Income, Poll Finds

The first EU-wide opinion survey on basic income finds a great majority of Europeans know about basic income and are supportive of the idea.

While it is no surprise that basic income has gained a lot of popularity over the past few months, it is difficult to grasp exactly how mainstream basic income has begun. That’s where opinion polls can help.

In Europe – where most of the political developments are happening in Finland, the Netherlands, and France – a new poll survey shows the magnitude of the trend – and it’s very encouraging.

According to the preliminary results (pdf here) from a survey carried out in April 2016, about 58% of the people are aware of basic income, and 64% would vote in favour of the policy if there was a referendum about it.

The survey was produced by the Berlin-based company Dalia Research, within the framework of its research programme called e28TM, a European-wide survey, to find out “what Europe thinks.” The e28TM is conducted every 6 months within a sample of 10,000 people, representative of the EU (28 countries) population. The respondents were invited to an online survey via their smartphones, tablets or computer desktops without knowing in advance the topics of the poll. Last April, the survey included basic income.

poll-eubi-support   poll-eubi-familiar

In the questionnaire, basic income was defined as “an income unconditionally paid by the government to every individual regardless of whether they work and irrespective of any other sources of income. It replaces other social security payments and is high enough to cover all basic needs (food, housing, etc.).”

Only 24% of the respondents said they would vote against it, while 12% would not vote. More interestingly, though, the results show a correlation between the level of awareness about basic income and the level of support. In other words, the more people know about the idea, the more they tend to support it:

poll-eubi-corelation

According to the survey, countries where basic income is most popular are Spain and Italy (with 71% and 69% of respondents, respectively, inclined to vote for a basic income).

However, those results are not entirely accurate as they do not show results for smaller countries where the population being interviewed was too small for the results to be statistically significant.

poll-eubi-countries

Respondents were also asked about their biggest hopes and fear if a basic income was to be introduced. It turns out the most convincing arguments in favor of basic income were that it would “reduces anxiety about basic financing needs” (40%) and improve equal opportunity (31%). Perhaps the most surprising result is that the downsizing of bureaucracy and administrative costs was considered the least convincing argument (16%).

Only 4% of the people would stop working.

On the other hand, the most frequent fear or objection was that basic income would encourage people to stop working (43%). However, the survey also provided evidence that this would not in fact be the case — with only 4% of the respondents saying that they would stop working if they had a basic income. Moreover, only 7% said they would reduce their working time, while another 7% said they would look for another job. About 34% of the people surveyed said basic income would “would not affect my work choices” while another 15% said they would spend more time with their family.

poll-eubi-effects

This confirms the result of a previous poll conducted in Switzerland in January that a great majority of people want to work, despite having their basic needs met anyway.

Besides the apparently unfounded concern that people would stop working, other objections considered convincing were that people would massively immigrate (34%), that basic income is not affordable (32%) and that only the needy should receive assistance (32%).

Overall, those results are very positive for basic income. They finally provide evidence that basic income has become mainstream and is likely to be supported by a majority of the population – at least in the EU.

While a number of national polls have already found a good level of support for basic income in France (60%), Catalonia (72%), and Finland (67%), Dalia Research is the first to have produced a European-wide survey on the popularity of basic income.