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Basic income: debate moves to implementation as Development Pathways points to way forward

The discussion of basic income is moving from an academic level to a more practical discussion of how to make a UBI work in practice.

Development Pathways' representative at the Basic Income Earth Network's annual conference, Rasmus Schjoedt, presented at the conference to make the argument that discussions around UBI need to be linked to wider debates around social security reform. He reported afterwards that it was clear that the discussion of basic income is moving to implementation.

He said: "As the discussion moves on, it is clear that, despite the seeming simplicity of the UBI idea, in reality there are many different models in play. I was happy to see people at the conference adopting a pragmatic approach, considering also social protection reforms that may not amount to a full basic income, but can improve current systems by moving in the direction of the principles of a UBI."

Schjoedt argued in a recent article that the concept of social protection floors should be seen as such a pragmatic pathway to a UBI in low- and middle-income countries, which is already being delivered in some nations.

At the congress, there were at least two distinct models of UBI being discussed, he added. The first, a 'citizen's dividend' from natural resource revenues, such as the Alaska model, which starts from the money available and sees UBI as a right to common resources; the second, which starts from the problem of high unemployment, under-employment and precarious work, and seeks to provide income support to address this.

Rasmus will attend next year's conference in Tampere, Finland. He added: "I hope to organise a panel specifically on the different pathways to a UBI in low- and middle income countries. The World Bank will be publishing a report on UBI in March 2018, and I talked to the author about organising a joint panel at the 2018 conference."