Basic Income and Social Sustainability in Post-Growth Economies

Mikael Malmaeus 1 , Eva Alfredsson 2 , and Simon Birnbaum 3 , 4
  • 1 IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3 Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden
  • 4 Institute for Urban and Housing Research, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Mikael MalmaeusORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6465-2257, Eva Alfredsson and Simon Birnbaum
  • Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden
  • Institute for Urban and Housing Research, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
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Abstract

A central task in efforts to identify pathways to ecologically and socially sustainable economies is to reduce inequality and poverty while reducing material consumption, which has recently inspired future post-growth scenarios. We build a model to explore the potential of a universal basic income (UBI) to serve these objectives. Starting from the observation that post-growth trajectories can take very different forms we analyze UBI in two scenarios advanced in the literature. Comparing UBI in a “local self-sufficiency” economy to a UBI in an “automation” economy, we show that although both scenarios satisfy central sustainability criteria, the impact of a UBI would differ greatly between these contexts. Our analysis shows that a UBI is less compatible with a labor-intensive local self-sufficiency economy than a capital-intensive, high tech economy. We conclude that the feasibility and attractiveness of a UBI in a post-growth scenario depends greatly on the specific characteristics of the economy.

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