Course description

Decades of stagnant wage growth and increased job insecurityand worries about the future impact of automation on jobshave revived interest across the political spectrum for policies that provide a basic yearly income guarantee. Most commonly called universal basic income (UBI), these policies typically propose providing all citizens a guaranteed yearly cash payment, regardless of their work status and level of income. Most recently proposed in the US by presidential candidate Andrew Yang, UBI policies have a much longer history, dating back as far as Thomas Paine. This course takes a broad view of UBI and examines the philosophical and economic issues that arise when formulating and implementing a UBI policy. What are the goals that can be achieved with UBI? What might a UBI policy to achieve those goals look like? How does it compare to other policies designed to achieve the same goals? In this course, students have a chance to explore these issues and develop a framework for analyzing the pros and cons of specific UBI proposals. Students consider questions such as, what should be the goal of UBI and what would constitute a fair policy? Should it be the same for everyone, regardless of circumstance? What does past research tell us about the impact of UBI on recipients? Will recipients work and save less, as some fear, or invest in additional education, as others suggest? Would they be more adventurous and entrepreneurial, or better able to care for children and aging parents? Will UBI improve health and well-being, or increase happiness? How much will the program cost and who should pay for it? Should it supplement or replace existing programs? What are the pros and cons of offering assistance in the form of cash versus programs that provide specific goods and services? What are the larger social impacts of UBI? Will UBI reduce poverty and/or income inequality? Is it the best way to achieve these goals?


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