Korea: Sea Cucumber Fisheries as Shared Property of Islanders – “rediscovering rural basic income experiments”

Korea: Sea Cucumber Fisheries as Shared Property of Islanders – “rediscovering rural basic income experiments”

Editor’s note: The use of the term ‘basic income’ for the sheme in Janggo Island does not correspond to BIEN’s definition of basic income, since it is paid not to all residents but to only participants in communal fish farming activities for 20 years, and paid not to individual but to household.

A forum took place on the meaning and issues of the basic rural income social experiment, which Gyeonggi Province plans to conduct in the second half of this year. Entitled, “The Meaning and Issues of the Community-centered Basic Income Social Experiment,” the first Rural Basic Income Policy Forum was held on the 29th of January and introduced cases and discussed India’s basic income experiment, distribution of shared assets in Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do, and Jeju Island. The Hankyoreh Economic and Social Research Institute with the Gyeonggi-do Agricultural and Fisheries Promotion Agency, the Basic Income Korea Network, Lab 2050, the Korea University Institute of Government Studies, and the Korea Regional Development Foundation all participated in organizing the January event. Some of the presenters and debaters participated online.

Lessons from the Indian basic income experiment

Sarath Davala, the keynote speaker, is the architect of India’s basic income social experiment and chairman of the Basic Income District Network, which leads the discussion on basic income worldwide. He laid out the implications of basic income experiments conducted in India and Namibia.

Namibia and India conducted basic income experiments—in 2008 and 2011, respectively—during which Namibia paid USD 12 and India USD 4 per month to 2,000 people for a span of 12 months. “Contrary to many people’s expectations, people who received basic income did not become lazy. Start-ups and economic activity increased, new transportation facilities were opened, school attendance rates rose, household debt decreased, and other good things occurred. In Namibia, the consumption of alcohol remained unchanged,” Dr. Davala explained.

Dr. Davala also introduced changes in policies following basic income social experiments. “After the social experiment, the local government in India began providing cash allowances to all farmers proportional to their farmland area in 2018, and through this policy, the party won three-quarters of the local council. […] However, the program excluded sharecroppers and non-farmers and allowances were paid only to owners of land in rural areas, and basic income discussions focused mainly on ‘the excluded.’ […] The implications of the Indian outcomes on other basic income experiments is that one needs to follow the principle of individuality and avoid excluding anyone in the region.”

Dr. Davala emphasized the role of social experimentation in promoting social dialogue beyond the collection of evidence. “In the past, we did not conduct small-scale social experiments in advance before abolishing slavery or winning women’s suffrage. These policies were based on values, philosophy, and human rights. Obviously, the policy effect rationale is important, but the policy is not implemented only with evidence. In India, political movements took place after social experiments, and there was a close review and public discussion of what was better,” he said. Another aspect of the social experiment he emphasizes is that it triggered dialogue between the public and the media, experts, and political parties to discuss desirable alternatives. “In Korea, there have been experiments with things such as youth dividends in Seongnam City, a basic income for young people in Gyeonggi Province, and national disaster support funds amid the Corona crisis, which has attracted the attention of politicians and the public.”

Sea cucumber seeds become basic income for islanders

The forum also presented a case where a local community shares the profits generated from a shared asset. Kang Je-yoon, head of the Island Research Institute, explained how Janggo Island allocates the profits from collected seafood to the islanders. Janggo is a small island with 81 households and 200 residents and began allocating profits from sea cucumber farming grounds in 1993. In 2019, 11 million won (around USD 10,000) was paid annually to each household in basic income. Kang said, “Unlike other fisheries, sea cucumbers grow on their own when the residents sow seeds. There is nothing residents have to do with them until they are ready for harvesting. Residents of Janggo Island receive a basic income from sea cucumber farming, which requires minimal labor, and the same amount is allocated as labor income from collecting clams ten times over two months. “Since the village community provides a basic income and labor income together worth 20 million won per year (USD 19,000), Janggo Island residents earn equal and stable income, unlike residents of other islands, where large income gaps exist between those in the aquaculture industry and those who are not.

However, Janggo Island also went through a slow and painful process before residents received a consistent dividend. Initially, the fishing village fraternity rented out fishing grounds around Janggo Island to fish farmers, who paid rent to the village society. Director Kang said, “It is illegal to rent out fishing grounds, which no one owns, and beside that, the rent was 500,000 won a year, which was an absurdly low price for 1983. In 1983, the village’s newly appointed head persuaded residents to reclaim the fishing grounds, after which they managed the profits from the fishing grounds (now village property) for ten years, and gave out loans. After much controversy, the dividend first began in 1993, and residents’ complaints about fishing grounds profits subsided, and the community’s common interest in the fishing grounds increased the quality of management.” A fair distribution system supported the management of shared assets.

Kim Ja-kyung, an academic research professor at Jeju National University, who presented on the possibility of basic income through shared assets on Jeju Island, said, “Jeju Island has a tradition of distributing profits through communal operation of pastureland and fisheries. For example, one village harvests seaweed fusiforme and agar together and distributes them among the participants while allowing individuals to keep the collected seaweed for themselves. One hundred and one fishing village fraternities had their own unique customs and order.”

Recently, wind and wind power generation has been drawing greater attention as a new shared asset on Jeju. Professor Kim gave a wind farm in Haengwon-ri, Gujwa-eup, eastern Jeju Island as an example. “Six villages in Haengwon-ri receive part of their wind power generation profits and set aside the funds. […] There is always a possibility of conflict and disagreement in the village, which prevents certain people from arbitrarily exercising their decision-making authority.” There is still work left to be done to develop a system to distribute the new shared asset profits fairly.

Consideration of the impact of distribution system on residents

Lee Chang-han, director of the Korea Regional Development Foundation, which designed the basic income social experiment in rural areas in Gyeonggi Province, said the experiment’s primary purpose is to closely examine the impact of basic income on the local community. “Because of the name “basic rural income,” many people are confused whether it only benefits farmers. However, farmers in rural areas in Gyeonggi-do Province make up only about 16% of the total population. It is crucial how farmers and non-farmers interact in the same living space in these rural areas. Like Janggo Island, we will observe the impact of the distribution system on resident communities.”

Park Kyung-chul, a researcher at Chungnam Research Institute, said, “Since 2019, various local governments have introduced farmers’ allowances, and there has been a discussion on farmers’ basic income. […] However, since non-farmers are also, directly and indirectly, involved in agricultural activities in rural areas, and together they form local communities, expanding the scope of payments to all rural residents is the concept behind basic income.”

Lee Ji-eun, CEO of the Basic Income New Research Network, said, “The basic income social experiment in rural areas can be reevaluated in terms of climate justice.” She added, “We hope this experiment will lead to discussions on rediscovering ‘the commons’ (shared assets), discovering small sustainable economic models and revitalizing ecological feminism, reflecting the peculiarity of rural areas.”

Lee Won-jae, CEO of Lab2050, who headed the debate, said, “I think the basic income social experiment in Gyeonggi Province has a unique status, as does the basic income experiment in Finland…where the prime minister in power conducted a policy experiment. In Korea, the experiment is taking place when basic income is becoming a central political topic.” This means that it is an environment in which the country’s overall policy will follow the results of the social experiment.

For more information, check out Gyeonggi Rural Basic Income Social Experiment’s blog page: https://gg-rbip.medium.com/

Written by Yoon Hyeong-joong, visiting fellow at the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute, philyoon23@gmail.com
Translated by Eunjae Shin, researcher at the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute, eunjae.shin@hani.co.kr Reviewed by Toru Yamamori, Academic Research Editor of BIEN

Photo: Credit: Janggo Island, South Korea, is experimenting on sharing dividends from sea cucumber farming grounds with its residents. Provided by Kang Je-yoon.

Research Associate sought for a microsimulation project on Basic Income based at the University of Bath, UK

Research Associate sought for a microsimulation project on Basic Income based at the University of Bath, UK

The Institute for Policy Research (IPR) at the University of Bath is seeking a post-doctoral research associate for a new programme of microsimulation research on Universal Basic Income (UBI).

The IPR is collaborating on research into UBI with the newly formed Freiburg Institute for Basic Studies by convening a Microsimulation Research Group, consisting of academics and civil society partners with interest and expertise in microsimulation studies of basic income schemes. 

The Research Associate will conduct microsimulation research for the group and organise its collaborative activities, under the direction of Prof Nick Pearce, Director of the IPR. Expertise and experience in using microsimulation models such as EUROMOD is essential. The post is offered for two years in the first instance, with the possibility of extension in due course.

The 2021 NABIG congress, 17th to 19th June

The 2021 NABIG congress, 17th to 19th June

The 19th North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress will be held virtually June 17-19, 2021.


Theme: Basic Income: Knowledge, Activism, Policy

The program committee is now accepting proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, organizing meetings, and artistic events.

Proposals on any topic involving basic income will be considered, but the organizing committee is particularly interested in papers and other events focused on:

  • What we have learned from the year of responses to the pandemic and economic crisis
  • Ways to move from crisis responses (such as one-time cash payments) to permanent policies
  • Results from basic income and guaranteed income pilot programs in North America and elsewhere
  • Cross-national comparisons, what people in the US (and elsewhere) can learn from what has been tried in Canada, and vice versa, etc.
  • Prospects for activism and advocacy at municipal, provincial/state, and federal levels
  • How basic income intersects with the aims and strategies of other social movements working for racial, social, and environmental justice
  • The rise of basic income in the cultural sphere

We are looking to bring together researchers, activists, artists, and policy makers to focus their collective expertise, experiences, and energies, to move the vision of a universal guaranteed basic income forward. Now more than ever, we see the need to connect what we have learned and continue to learn from empirical evidence and other research to those who are on the ground advocating and organizing movements, and those in our countries’ capitols setting policy for years to come. Together, we call on you to join the effort to take stock and plan our way forward, as we move from crisis response to building the foundational underpinnings of society for the next generation. Come share your knowledge, your know how, your insights, and your passion, as we harness a burgeoning interest and greater commitment to the need for a basic income guarantee.

We invite proposals in the following formats:

  • Individual 15 minute presentation with additional Q&A.
  • Panel discussion of 3-4 people, 60-90 minutes
  • Interactive / Participatory Workshop, 60-90 minutes
  • Have a novel suggestion? Let us know!

Proposal Submissions:  Please submit your proposal (max. 250 words) using this link: https://forms.gle/3xfD6U4DUtf7h7Dh9. The deadline is April 19, 2021.

Registration:  Please register for the NABIG Congress here.

The conference website can be found here.

Questions?:  Email us here.

Congress Coordinator:         Larry Cohen (USBIG)

Assistant Coordinator:         Michael Howard (USBIG)

Organizing Committee:        Ben Earle (BICN), Walid Herzallah (BICYN), Jason Murphy (USBIG), Eri Noguchi (USBIG), Sheila Regehr (BICN), Stacey Rutland (Income Movement); Monika Viktorova (BICN)

Korea publishes more research results on the Gyeonggi Youth Basic Income

Korea publishes more research results on the Gyeonggi Youth Basic Income

In April 2019 Gyeonggi Province in Korea, the area around Seoul, implemented a Youth Basic Income that pays to every 24 year old who is a permanent resident 250,000 won (US $220; £158; €184) every quarter for four quarters. The grants are given in a local currency.

Based on surveys before and after the implementation of the Youth Basic Income, results published at the end of 2019 showed improvements in life satisfaction, in perception of Basic Income, and in work motivation.

Several further reports have been published, the latest of which evaluates the effect of the Youth Basic Income on local businesses. The research discovered that sales by small businesses rose by 45 per cent.

The first report on the Gyeonggi Province Youth Basic Income and a list of other reports can be found here: https://english.gri.re.kr/research/?brno=14459&prno=6533. The report on the effects on local businesses can be found here: https://english.gri.re.kr/research/?sv=&sc=&limit=10&brno=14600&prno=20200498.

Applications invited for doctoral study opportunities in Freiburg

Applications invited for doctoral study opportunities in Freiburg

The Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies (FRIBIS) is offering six positions for doctoral study.

The closing date is the 28th February.

FRIBIS is an interdisciplinary institute that aims to combine scientific research with political and civil debates as well as political consultation relating to the Universal Basic Income. FRIBIS supports a worldwide network of scientists, political decision-makers and societal actors who have the joint goal of providing answers to the global challenges of our time by means of a Universal Basic Income. Accordingly, all members of the Junior Scientific Group are expected to work through interdisciplinary cooperation.
We are specifically looking for applicants from the following disciplines:

• Education
• Social Anthropology
• Computer Science
• Psychology
• Theology, especially Caritas Science and the Economics of Carework
• Economics

We also encourage the application of people from related disciplines

Further details of the positions can be found here.

Central American States can and should move towards the implementation of a Universal Basic Income

Central American States can and should move towards the implementation of a Universal Basic Income

By: Carlos Alvarado Mendoza y Jonathan Menkos Zeissig
Translation: Julio Linares
The Spanish version of the article can be found here.

Recently, the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (Icefi) proposed for Central America the implementation of a universal basic income (UBI), seeking that the States of the isthmus have a minimum guarantee of social protection, while contributing to counteract the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A UBI, accompanied by other public, social and economic investments, would accelerate the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, by proposing a change structural in the welfare and economic growth model, could be the basis for the discussion of new social, political, economic and prosecutors in Central America.

Central American governments have implemented actions in order to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the impacts on people’s health and economic activity. However, these states have faced a complex scenario, although to varying degrees in each country, as the pandemic has exacerbated structural problems mainly related to the lack of equity in access and care of public health systems, the weak health care system and social protection and the low capacity to generate formal employment and productive transformation, which has as a consequence lead to high levels of inequality and poverty. Indeed, prior to the crisis, 45 out of every 100 Central Americans (about 22.5 million people) lives in conditions of poverty; furthermore, 82 out of every 100 poor Central Americans lives in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

According to estimates by the Institute, the current crisis could cause the loss of up to 1.9 million jobs, and induce a significant increase in general and extreme poverty. Especially in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the current crisis could add at least 4.9 million people to poverty, according to data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which would further erode the weak social fabric of these countries of the region (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), 2020, “Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic: economic and social effects”, Special Report COVID-19 No. 3). Among the main measures that have been implemented by most Central American governments to limit the impact on the population, in terms of ensuring income, food security and basic services, particularly for vulnerable groups, are: food delivery; the creation of new monetary transfers; suspension of payment for basic services (particularly water, power and telephone); and, the increase in the amount of previously existing monetary transfers. Likewise, different types of protection programs have been put in place for workers in the formal sector, among which are teleworking, paid absence from work, unemployment insurance, reduction of working hours, among others. Additionally, additional direct support has been provided to individuals and families, consisting of credit payment facilities, support for workers in the informal sector, among others.

Although the measures adopted by the governments of the region are limited and of a temporary nature, they indicate the urgent need to implement permanent actions, from a long-term perspective, that make it possible to guarantee the gradual reduction of poverty in the countries of the region until they are eliminated and the rights of the people by strengthening States through the universal provision of social protection that allows rebuilding the social fabric of those countries.

Faced with the above, the Icefi has urged the Central American States expand and strengthen their social protection systems in a way that protect the population, prioritizing traditionally excluded groups
and the most vulnerable, the economic and financial damages derived the crisis and accelerate the process of economic recovery. To achieve these objectives quickly and effectively, the Institute proposes the implementation launch of a universal basic income (UBI) that eliminates extreme poverty and significantly reduces general poverty. In its III Report Central American fiscal policy ―whose first chapters were published in July―, the Institute has calculated the costs and effects of the application of a universal basic income.

For the implementation of a UBI, the Icefi proposes to assign a sum monetary to each member of society, equivalent to the amount associated with the international threshold of extreme poverty (USD 1.90 per day in parity of 2011 purchasing power). From that account, you would also be paying the achievement of the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, and 16. The application of a UBI has an operational simplicity that pays to its rapid execution, avoiding creating more bureaucracy, opening paths to corruption and keeping beneficiaries in the trap of poverty. By being assigned unconditionally, it would allow not only to eradicate extreme poverty, decrease overall poverty, reduce inequality in income distribution, increase levels of economic activity and create the conditions for new jobs, but also the measure should provoke the modernization of fiscal policy and rebalancing necessary of responsibilities between citizens, companies and the government. From that account, when proposing a structural change in the welfare and economic growth model, UBI could be the basis for discussion of new social, political, economic and fiscal pacts in Central America.

The initial estimates made by the Institute suggest that the annual investment required for the implementation of a UBI ranges from 1.2% and 7.5% of GDP for the six countries of the region, Honduras being the country that would require more investment due to the size of its GDP and the
number of inhabitants of the country. Similarly, Nicaragua would require an investment of approximately
5.8% of GDP; while in Guatemala and El Salvador, investment necessary would reach between 5.0% and 5.3% of GDP, respectively. In contrast, the countries that would face the least fiscal pressure to implement this policy are Costa Rica and Panama, whose investment would be around 2.2% and 1.2% of GDP, respectively.

Figure 1: Central America: necessary increase in public spending by the central administration to implement a UBI from threshold poverty level (2020-2030, figures as percentages of GDP).

At the Institute’s discretion, the implementation of a UBI could be carried out
gradually, as shown in Figure 1 ―in a maximum period of ten years and serving the population in the territories with the highest poverty and less development, consistent with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and with the necessary institutional, fiscal and economic restructuring that guarantees the effectiveness and sustainability of this policy over time. This way of gradually achieving the universality of basic income would allow States to advance comprehensively in the universalization of other public goods and services related to education, health, water and environmental sanitation, housing, among others.

According to estimates by the Institute, among the greatest impacts of executing this agenda, in addition to the elimination of extreme poverty, is the generation of 2.0 million direct jobs; the increase average of 20% in the rhythm of economic activity, mainly driven by domestic production; as well as improvements in the indicators of social welfare and equality. For the general fulfillment of the SDG2030 Agenda in the Central American region, the Institute has identified various probable sources of financing, among which the increase in tax collection stands out. As a result of the reduction of illicit capital flows, smuggling, evasion of taxes and fiscal privileges; as well as by the increase of some taxes that, additionally, could improve the
global progressiveness of the tax system. In some states, indebtedness can also be considered as a financing mechanism. Additionally, the Institute reiterates that, on the side of public spending, it is possible to generate spaces additional prosecutors through two channels: by eliminating the items that are not oriented towards development goals, so that resources can be reallocated to programs that have such an orientation; as well as by improving efficiency of those that can generate better results in economic and social terms.

Table 1: Fiscal Space on the Taxation Side

The gradual implementation of a universal basic income, together with the advancement of public investments that guarantee the fulfillment of development goals, and a comprehensive fiscal reform ―more income, public spending based on results, greater transparency and an effective fight against corruption – are the elements that will allow Central Americans to successfully face this health and economic crisis, expanding rights and rebalancing social responsibilities. For this reason, the Institute urges all of society – peasant movements and promoters of individual human rights, workers, businessmen, academia, political parties and governments in office – to promote an open and sensible national dialogue, with a vision of the future, that has as objective of transforming States through a social, economic and fiscal pact that changes current political and socioeconomic trends and sets Central America on the path of sustainable, inclusive and democratic development to which the great majority aspire.

In particular, the states of the countries of the region must advance in the strengthening of their social protection programs, a central element of policy that allows reducing existing inequalities, not only in terms of income, but also from an inclusive perspective in economic terms and social that promote social cohesion. Furthermore, for Icefi, reducing the exacerbation of the poverty conditions in which more than half of Central Americans live may be possible by universalizing access to social protection programs, since the current context has only accentuated the existing limitations in terms of of the economic and social model. A better Central America is possible to the extent that an inclusive development model is formulated and built in economic, social and environmental terms, so that a universal basic income ensures a minimum base of protection that is accompanied by policies that guarantee for all a quality education; access to timely, effective and efficient health services; have public services of economic and social infrastructure that favor social cohesion; and that all implemented policies are consistent with an environmentally friendly strategy.

Originally posted in Spanish in Sin Permiso here.