The pandemic has focused minds not just on how to address the many immediate challenges but also on what sort of world we want to see beyond it. In that context calls for a universal basic income (UBI), already prominent before the crisis, are being advanced with new urgency—by, for example, the World Economic Forum.

The idea appears to resonate with the public: a survey across European Union countries has been reported by Timothy Garton Ash of Oxford University as finding that ‘71 per cent of Europeans now support basic income’. At the same time, the report on Finland’s large-scale basic-income experiment has indicated some positive results, in terms of the mental and economic wellbeing of recipients, without reducing employment.

The arguments for and against basic income had already been exhaustively rehearsed. But what implications does the current crisis have for the case for UBI and the likelihood that it will gain real political traction in the rich countries?


Nolan, B. & Weisstanner, D. (2020). 'UBI and the pandemic: all or nothing changed?'. Blog post: Social Europe 29th May 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.socialeurope.eu/ubi-and-the-pandemic-all-or-nothing-changed
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