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Designing a basic income guarantee: Targeting, universality and other considerations

Designing a basic income guarantee

As support for the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) grows, this Policy Brief explores the critical debate of how the BIG should be designed and whether it be universal or targeted. We find that targeting a specific vulnerable group – whether through employment status or income levels – is, in practice, less effective at reaching that group. In contrast, universality combined with taxation measures to recoup the BIG from higher-income households, minimises the risk of excluding those in need. A universal BIG also promotes social cohesion, improves psychological wellbeing, and generates increased political support for the policy, while giving expression to the state’s constitutional obligation to provide social security. Although a universal BIG is not a “silver bullet” solution, its introduction will go a long way to providing much-needed income support to those currently excluded.