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Working Paper Series

Universal Basic Income in the US and Advanced Countries


  • Hilary Hoynes, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Jesse Rothstein, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper ()
  • Originally Listed at:


We discuss the potential role of Universal Basic Incomes (UBIs) in advanced countries. A feature of advanced economies that distinguishes  them from developing countries is the existence of well developed, if often incomplete, safety nets. We develop a framework for describing
transfer programs, flexible enough to encompass most existing programs as well as UBIs, and use this framework to compare various UBIs to the existing constellation of programs. A UBI would direct much larger shares of transfers to childless, non-elderly, non-disabled households
than existing programs, and much more to middle-income rather than poor households. A UBI large enough to increase transfers to low-income families would be enormously expensive. We review the labor supply literature for evidence on the likely impacts of a UBI. We argue that the ongoing UBI pilot studies will do little to resolve the major outstanding questions.

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Last updated on 09/28/2018