Universal Basic Income and the Cost Objection: What are we Waiting For?

Richard Pereira


Among the most common objections to providing everyone with an unconditional basic income is the cost objection. It states that the cost of providing everyone with a decent income floor, beneath which no one would fall, is out of reach for governments and public finance. Income taxes would have to be raised to unacceptable levels to accomplish this, the objection claims. This paper addresses the objection by demonstrating its weaknesses and showing that a universal basic income is affordable. It is in fact more affordable than the current wasteful array of often counter-productive, bureaucratic income security programs. Better results can be achieved with lower costs by implementing basic income, or a guaranteed livable income. This study does not seek any cuts to vital public programs such as universal health care or education to attain the result of a basic income sufficient to cover one’s needs for food, modest shelter etc. at all times. Personal income taxes are not raised in this proposal and they could even be cut, while improving health outcomes for individuals and reducing health burdens upon the current system resulting from a presently dysfunctional, outdated income security model.

Published on 10 Jul 2015 in World Economic Review No 5, July 2015