Universal Basic Income as a Social Rights-Based Antidote to Growing Economic Insecurity

Katharine G. Young (ed.), The Future of Social Rights (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming)

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-51

32 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017  

Philip Alston

New York University School of Law

Date Written: November 29, 2017

Abstract

This chapter is premised on the view that the human rights movement needs to address and respond to the fundamental changes that are taking place in economic and social structures at the national and global levels. In this setting one of the most vibrant proposals is to replace or supplement existing social protection systems with a universal basic income (UBI). The chapter reflects on how a UBI does and should relate to analogous efforts within the framework of international human rights law. It argues that UBI offers a bold and imaginative solution to pressing problems that are about to become far more intractable as a result of the directions in which the global economy appears inexorably to be heading. While there are many objections relating to affordability in particular, the concept should not be rejected out of hand on the grounds that it is utopian. In today’s world of severe economic insecurity, creativity in social policy is necessary. The chapter concludes by calling for the debates over social protection floors and a UBI to be brought together, rather than being kept largely separate in a counter-productive and ultimately self-defeating way.

Suggested Citation

Alston, Philip, Universal Basic Income as a Social Rights-Based Antidote to Growing Economic Insecurity (November 29, 2017). Katharine G. Young (ed.), The Future of Social Rights (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming); NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-51. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3079907 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3079907

Philip Alston (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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