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Can Basic Income be an Alternative to Social Security?

Jae-jin Yang 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

After critically assessing the effectiveness of basic income as an alternative to the existing social security system, this article argues that basic income is fundamentally incapable of providing an adequate protection for those in social risks or welfare needs. The proponents of basic income often claims that technological innovations will lead to the end of work and thus that basic income will be required for all citizens in the future. Moreover, they emphasize that labor market flexibility is making a large segment of work forces unstable working poor, what is often called the precariat who are not effectively protected by the existing social insurance programs. For them, basic income is the best source of social protection for the precariat of today and the citizens in the future, freeing them from the necessity of having a paid work. This article, however, points out the ineffectiveness of basic income as social protection due to its unustainably high cost that comes from unconditional benefit provisions regardless of levels of income, social risks, and welfare needs. Also it challenges the simplified ‘Luddites’ image of workless society in the future, arguning that techological unemployment can be overcome by new job creation as seen in Silicon Valley and job sharing following working time reduction. It maintains that it is more cost-effective and reliable to strengthen the welfare state based on the principle of reciprocity that aims at ‘universal sufficient protection for those in social risks and welfare needs.’

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.