July 25, 2024


The Key to a More Equitable Society or a Recipe for Disaster? 

The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been gaining traction in recent years. However, the implementation of UBI remains a contentious issue, with ongoing debate around its potential impact on businesses and the economy.

What is Universal Basic Income?  

Universal Basic Income is a policy proposal that aims to provide every citizen with a regular, unconditional sum of money to cover their basic needs. The idea behind UBI is that it would help as a potential solution to poverty and inequality, as well as a way to address the economic challenges posed by automation and the gig economy. The start of the pandemic brought the idea back to the forefront of people’s minds. An emergency UBI was proposed to help alleviate financial stress during the pandemic. The debate of UBI continues, with many differing opinions on its potential impact on businesses and the economy. 


Proponents of UBI argue that it would boost consumer spending and economic growth by providing individuals with a stable source of income. By ensuring that everyone has enough money to cover their basic needs, UBI could potentially reduce poverty and inequality, which in turn would lead to a more stable and prosperous society. With the rise of automation, UBI could provide a safety net for workers whose jobs have been replaced by mechanization, allowing them to retrain or start new businesses. 

Andrew Yang, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, sparked a nationwide conversation with his bold initiative, “the Freedom Dividend.” This revolutionary policy, which would provide a universal basic income of $1,000 per month to all American adults, quickly gained widespread support with the most persuasive argument being the anticipated impact of automation on employment opportunities in the near future, according to the Berkeley Economic Review. 


Critics of UBI argue that it would be too expensive to implement and would lead to even more inflation. They also argue that UBI would disincentivize work, as individuals would have less financial incentive to seek employment. Some argue that UBI would be a burden on businesses, as it would increase their tax burden and lead to higher prices for goods and services. The concern arises that if a UBI system is implemented, why should those who are actively working and contributing to society through labor and taxes, be responsible for providing financial support to those who are not actively participating in the workforce?  

The worry of reciprocity is one of the main concerns regarding the universal income debate, according to The University of North Carolina. Individuals who consistently put in effort should not be financially responsible for those who do not contribute to society through employment.  

The Debate Around Universal Basic Income Continues 

Despite the ongoing debate, some countries and cities have begun experimenting with UBI pilot programs. In Finland, for example, a two-year pilot program was launched in 2017 to provide a basic income of €560 ($645) per month to 2,000 unemployed citizens. The results of the pilot were mixed, with some participants reporting that the basic income improved their well-being and reduced stress, while others said that it did not improve their employment prospects.  

While some argue that UBI would provide a much-needed boost to consumer spending and economic growth, others argue that it would be too expensive and would disincentivize work. As with any policy proposal, the key is to carefully consider the potential benefits and drawbacks, and to continue experimenting with pilot programs to gain a better understanding of the potential impact of a universal basic income.