Social protection and basic income in global policy – Global Social Policy

Extract from an article by Moritz von Gliszczynski

Since the early 2000s, social protection has become a mainstay in global policy debates and has been recently named as an instrument to achieve the United Nation’s (UN) sustainable development goals (UN, 2016). This is the outcome of a long-term shift in policy: after decades of neglect at the global level, the 1990s saw increased interest in social protection in the wake of the highly criticized Washington Consensus. While global policy discourses initially focused on social insurance, interest shifted toward cash benefits to the poor, or ‘social cash transfers’ (SCT), around the turn of the millennium. In the following years, the ‘global social floor’ consisting of several complementary cash benefits
was successfully disseminated by the International Labor Organization (ILO, 2010).

The shift toward social protection in global policy coincided with a global debate on universal basic income (UBI), driven by global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate worldwide implementation (i.e. the Basic Income Earth Network or BIEN). Recently, this debate has gained momentum. After decades of mostly hypothetical debate, pilot projects were conducted in Namibia and India, and Switzerland held a referendum on UBI implementation although the proposal was rejected (BBC, 2016). As UBI is generally defined as a flat-rate cash benefit to all citizens of a nation-state, it is essentially similar to SCT, and therefore, one would expect UBI to play a significant role in global discourses on development policy. Puzzlingly, this is not the case: UBI has, to date, not been discussed as an alternative to SCT. In fact, the official publications of significant global organizations rarely, if ever, discuss UBI at all (for a rare exception, see ILO, 2004). How can this exclusion of UBI from global policy discourses be explained? I argue that this absence of UBI is the result of two factors: a mismatch between fundamental ideas in global discourses and the idea of UBI, and lack of a clear policy model supported by evidence..(continues)

SOURCE: Moritz von Gliszczynski, “Social protection and basic income in global policy”, Global Social Policy, 30 Nov 2016

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