Archive for the ‘Universal Transfers’ Category

debating universal basic income

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Universal Basic Income (UBI) seems like an idea whose time has come, given the widespread fear of workers that their jobs are threatened by automation (robots). Nonetheless, there are many who oppose the UBI, often on grounds that giving people “money for nothing” will discourage work. I never found this argument to be convincing. Means-tested (targeted) benefits almost always require an able-bodied person to be unemployed to receive benefits. In short, government pays citizens for not working. The unemployed who find jobs lose their benefits. A UBI, in contrast, does not require recipients to be unemployed, so does not discourage work. (more…)

Kenya launches universal pensions

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Beginning this month – January 2018 – every resident of Kenya over the age of 70 years is entitled to a pension funded solely by general government revenue. The pension is modest, and the age of entitlement is high, but it is an excellent beginning. Previously, only 240,000 of the 390,000 Kenyan citizens over 70 years of age received means-tested, targeted pension benefits. Targeting will continue for social pensions given to persons between the ages of 65 and 69 years. (more…)

call for universal healthcare and pensions for India’s elderly

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

We should start looking at universal health insurance for the elderly, not restricting it to merely BPL [below poverty line] patients, but extending it to the middle-class as well. We need helplines, the establishment of a national trust for the aged and a national commission for senior citizens. Sadly, as a society, we do not care for our elderly and hence the lack of will.

The government needs [also] … to help future generations benefit and live longer … with some sort of a universal pension plan.

Poonam Muttreja, “Too little done to provide elderly with social, financial security“, Deccan Chronicle, 17 January 2018.

Ms. Poonam Muttreja heads the Population Foundation of India (PFI), a New Delhi-based NGO. The Deccan Chronicle is published in Hyderabad (Telangana) and other Deccan regions, including Kerala. The newspaper has more than a million subscribers.

The BPL is supposed to identify families living in extreme poverty, but its application is very uneven, inefficient and corrupt. Many families who are poor enough to qualify are excluded, while non-poor families are often counted as poor.

Only 18% of India’s population over 60 years of age have access to a monthly social pension of 200 Rupees (3 US$), and the beneficiaries are not India’s poorest.

 

universal basic income (UBI)

Friday, December 8th, 2017

UBI is an old idea whose time has come due especially to the threat of automation. The idea is simple. Provide each adult with a benefit large enough to cover his or her basic needs. A smaller sum would be allocated to parents for each child. It his important that the benefit not be means-tested, i.e. that it be universal. Otherwise, paid employment would be discouraged. Recipients of income from work and savings would be taxed at normal rates, normally not higher than 50%. (more…)

Hong Kong changes leaders

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

… but not policies. Plans for a universal pension, in particular, will not be implemented, nor even debated, by the Legislative Council.

A long-forgotten peace resumed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday as the city’s new leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended her first question-and-answer session ….

While radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was again ousted from the chamber as he protested against Lam for not implementing a universal pension scheme, lawmakers from both sides agreed the meeting was more constructive and peaceful than those attended by Lam’s predecessor Leung Chun-ying. ….

But not all people were happy.

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung feared the [pan-democrat] camp would become more passive – or even be dismantled.

Jeffie Lam and Kimmy Chung, “Peace returns to Hong Kong’s legislature as new leader Carrie Lam attends first session – but how long will honeymoon last?“, South China Morning Post, 6 July 2017.

UBI in poor countries

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

This is a great column. Mr Sandu does not mention it, but a universal pension is also good for poor countries (and wealthy countries as well). A universal pension, after all, is a universal basic income (UBI) limited to older folks and younger persons with disabilities.

[T]he debate in rich countries tends, naturally enough, to focus on the affordability and desirability of UBI in rich countries. But there is much to learn — for rich countries, too — about whether UBI would make sense in poorer ones. The answer is, perhaps paradoxically, that there is a good case for low-income countries to leapfrog the rich world in welfare policy.

John McArthur asks how many poor countries could afford to pay a UBI large enough to eradicate extreme poverty. The answer is stunning: 66 countries could do this at a cost of no more than 1 per cent of their national income. Doing so would lift 185m people out of extreme poverty, a quarter of the global total. A further 25 countries could do the same at a cost of between 1 and 5 five per cent of national income, eradicating extreme poverty for another 150m people. ….

UBI is the new frontier in welfare reform. At the moment it looks more likely to be conquered by the developing world, while countries known as advanced economies look on from behind.

Martin Sandbu, “Leapfrogging to universal basic income“, Free Lunch, Financial Times, 7 June 2017 (unfortunately gated by a paywall).

Mr Sandbu cites “How many countries could end extreme poverty tomorrow?“, 1 June 2017, a blog by John W. McArthur, senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution.

waiting for universal pensions in Hong Kong

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Hong Kong is a city of immense wealth, but it is also a city where far too many residents – especially older residents – live in poverty. The people of Hong Kong have shown remarkable patience while the government refuses to implement a universal pension recommended long ago by their own consultant, University of Hong Kong professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun. (more…)

Finland’s experiment with universal basic income (UBI)

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Finland has begun a basic income experiment with 2,000 people, randomly selected from unemployed persons aged from 25 to 58 years. They will continue to receive a basic income for two-years regardless of their employment status. This is not a true basic income, which would continue for the life of each participant, but some positive results have already emerged. (more…)

towards ‘universal’ pensions in Bangladesh

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

The government of Bangladesh plans to introduce a scheme that promises a ‘universal’ pension to everyone who contributes to a pension pot. Those who contribute little will receive little in their old age. Those who contribute nothing will receive nothing. Is this a universal benefit? Not by my definition.

More than 6% of Bangladesh’s 169 million residents are older than age 60. These older persons cannot save much for their old age, as they have already reached old age. Nor can we expect unpaid caregivers or workers in the informal sector to participate in the proposed ‘universal’ retirement savings scheme. (more…)

basic income works

Monday, May 15th, 2017

The current issue of Boston Review, a bimonthly American political and literary magazine, contains a forum on “Work Inequality Basic Income”. Here are excerpts from an online essay that contains links to numerous studies of basic income experiments. My only complaint is the neglect of the effect of income tests, which amount to a large taxes on earnings, with a predictably negative impact on employment.

In my opinion, the main problem with basic income is that most often it is not universal. Means tests (the lack of universality) stigmatizes beneficiaries, increases administration costs, and discourages recipients from working for pay. (more…)