Much has been written about the potential impact of automation on employment. While there is some debate about what the net impact on employment will be (i.e., will automation lead to a steep decline in employment or just a dramatic shift in required skills and available jobs?), policy leaders, economists, social theorists and others are beginning to prepare for the likely displacement of a large number of workers. One tool that is under consideration is a universal basic income (UBI).
UBI is a system in which all citizens receive the same guaranteed amount of money from the government. There is no means testing, and recipients are allowed to work and keep whatever they make in addition to the UBI. Because there is no limit on additional income, there is no disincentive to work, according to supporters. Skeptics see a strong disincentive to work and fear the impact of reduced productivity.
UBI is an idea that has been around for decades, and five experiments with UBI were run in the U.S. and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. Currently, Finland and Ontario, Canada, are running pilot programs, and tech leaders are jumping in to run programs in the U.S. and other countries. These experiments will provide data and insights on the effectiveness and impact of UBI as a tool in reducing inequality and social instability while maintaining optimal productivity levels.
Read more about UBI in the links below.