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Basic Income and Unequal Longevity

  • Manuel Sá Valente ORCID logo EMAIL logo
From the journal Basic Income Studies


Universal basic income proposes providing instalments of constant magnitude to all. One problem with a stable basic income across life is that it seems unfair to shorter-lived persons, who are worst-off due to premature death and receive less over their whole lives. Basic capital solves this problem by providing a one-off grant to the young, but I argue that it mistreats long-lived persons, as it does not guarantee their real freedom across life. There is a dilemma between these proposals regarding their respective unfairness to the short- and long-lived. The solution I propose is a net basic income of decreasing magnitude until a specific age, after which the income is constant. This solution is compatible with constant income benefits across life, and it offers a fair answer to the problem of unequal longevity, a widely neglected but essential challenge in debates about basic income.

Corresponding author: Manuel Sá Valente, Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Montesquieu 3, L2.06.01, Office: D-310, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, E-mail:

Funding source: ‘SAS’ Pensions research project, UCLouvain

Award Identifier / Grant number: ARC No 18-23-088


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Received: 2021-02-23
Accepted: 2022-01-11
Published Online: 2022-01-26

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