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Do We Need Free Money? On the Debate about Universal Basic Income

Research Article

Olga A. Kislitsyna Doctor of Economics
Institute of Economics of RAS, Moscow, Russia
ORCID ID=0000-0002-4144-237X
Do We Need Free Money? On the Debate about Universal Basic Income.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 4. P. 80-92

Дата поступления статьи: 30.06.2023
Topic: In search of justice: the idea of unconditional basic income

For citation:
Kislitsyna O. A. Do We Need Free Money? On the Debate about Universal Basic Income. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2023. Vol. 14. No. 4. P. 80-92
DOI: https://doi.org/10.19181/vis.2023.14.4.5. EDN: EYFLBD


In this article, the author proposes that instead of asking whether a universal basic income is a chance for Russia, we should think about another question: do we need it?

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI), understood as an unconditional monthly cash payment provided to everyone and proclaimed as a response to the problem of poverty and technological unemployment in the era of digitalisation and robotisation, is the subject of discussion of the results of a collective study conducted under the leadership of a prominent specialist in the field of labour economics, level and quality of life of the population V. N. Bobkova. Having considered the main theoretical and methodological provisions of UBI, its advantages and disadvantages, having analysed country experiments on the introduction of UBI, interviewing experts and the population about the prospects for introducing UBI in Russia, having analysed the macroeconomic consequences based on an expert simulation dynamic model, the researchers answered affirmatively to the question posed “Universal basic income: a chance for Russia?” and believe that the transition to UBI in the country can be carried out gradually, through various transitional forms.

First, the main arguments made in favour of introducing a UBI are false. The prediction that jobs will disappear in the future due to technological change is wildly exaggerated. There are doubts that UBI will be fair and can combat poverty and inequality. There is little reason to believe that a UBI is a better alternative to the current welfare system. Secondly, no one can accurately answer what the consequences of implementing UBI will be. Conclusions about its benefits are based on the results of country experiments and microsimulation modelling. However, these approaches suffer from a number of shortcomings and remain suggestive rather than evidence-based. This article raises the question of whether it would be better to wait for other countries to try UBI first to better understand its advantages and disadvantages. Thirdly, the author argues that the introduction of a UBI is not the only way to solve problems in the social security system and the labour market, and suggests alternative directions for socio-economic policy.


universal basic income (UBI), poverty, technological changes, country experiments, social security system, debate

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