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Should Liberal-Egalitarians Support a Basic Income? An Examination of the Effectiveness and Stability of Ideal Welfare Regimes

Jürgen Sirsch ORCID logo

Abstract

The article deals with the question whether an unconditional basic income (UBI) is part of an ideal liberal-egalitarian welfare regime. Analyzing UBI from an ideal-theoretical perspective requires a comparison of the justice performance of ideal welfare regimes instead of comparing isolated institutional designs. This holistic perspective allows for a more systematic consideration of issues like institutional complementarity. I compare three potential ideal welfare regimes from a liberal-egalitarian perspective of justice: An ideal social democratic regime, a mixed regime containing a moderate UBI and a maximal UBI regime where UBI replaces most of the welfare state. These regimes are evaluated with respect to three aspects of justice performance: the scope and neutrality of opportunities provided, institutional complementarities with a dynamic, globalized economy and the policy feedback effects on the political stability of liberal-egalitarian political coalitions. I conclude that the overall performance of a mixed regime is superior to the other regimes.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Doris Unger and the anonymous referees of earlier versions of the paper for helpful comments and suggestions.

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Published Online: 2020-03-06
Published in Print: 2021-10-26

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