Annotated Bibliography – Universal Basic Income

The concept of a Universal Basic Income has been gaining popularity throughout many political parties and advocacy groups. Rather than offering social support programs that are available only to those who meet specific criteria, the Universal Basic Income would be distributed regularly to citizens to ensure their ability to consistently afford necessities. In this paper, I will argue that the Universal Basic Income is a feasible alternative to a conditional welfare state and that the adoption of this method would make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need. Instead of employing a punitive system that chastises social assistance recipients in many ways, the implementation of the Universal Basic Income would allow the unemployed, underemployed, and unemployable a better opportunity to succeed by alleviating the stress associated with the uncertainty of joblessness, the fear of government clawbacks, or the stress related to chronic financial instability. The Universal Basic Income is a program that could work to change the stigma which plagues the underprivileged in society, challenging the common narrative that those who are unemployed or underemployed are personally responsible for their social location due to laziness or incompetency. Using peer-reviewed articles and thoughtful opinion pieces, I will demonstrate the ways in which introducing a Universal Basic Income could better the lives of all members of society, restoring dignity to those in need and redefining how citizens regard the issue of poverty in our communities.


Dowson, N. (2019), For the greater good, New Internationalist Magazine. 518, 48-51.
This article offers an insightful look into the Universal Basic Income as part of a larger plan of offering Universal Basic Services using a model created at the University College of London. This model seeks to address the gaps in the social welfare system that would not be solved by simply offering a monthly financial supplement. It highlights the importance of a multi-faceted support system to provide for the basic needs of all citizens, focusing on the availability of access to necessary support nets beyond just providing access to cash. This article supports my thesis by identifying the shortcomings of the current welfare state.

Freedman, D H. (2016) Basic income: A sellout of the American dream. MIT Technology Review 119. 48-53.
An article in opposition to the Universal Basic Income, the author focuses on the negative financial impact that the UBI could have on the United States in particular. He addresses the support for the UBI from individuals in Silicon Valley specifically, attributing this to the possibility of job loss due to automation in the field of technology. This article suggests that the best alternative to a Universal Basic Income would be the expansion of existing social safety nets to better suit the underemployed, a method that the author asserts would be less costly and could serve to encourage the jobless to seek employment. This article is a good resource for understanding the concerns of those against the implementation of the UBI and the possible financial burden it could place on the system. The article does not support my thesis but offers a good perspective regarding the concerns some have over this alternate approach to social support.

Hamilton, L. Martin-West, S. (2019) Universal basic income, poverty and social justice. National Association of Social Workers. 64. 4. 321-328.
A great resource for defining the Universal Basic Income, the current research regarding its projected positive outcomes and criticisms against the current welfare state. This peer-reviewed article highlights the dangers that are associated with poverty and the uncertainties and instability associated with conditional welfare systems. Written by social workers, this is a valuable resource from their practical, real-world perspective. The information contained within this article supports my thesis in that it clearly demonstrates the positive aspects of adopting the Universal Basic Income for those facing unemployment, underemployment, and other socio-ecological barriers to financial stability.

Heller, N. (2018). Take the money and run. The New Yorker. 94. 20. 65-69.
This is a good resource about the history of the idea of Universal Basic Income, breaking down exactly what it is, what it is meant to do, and what the appeal is for people on both sides of politics. This article raises the important point that support for the Universal Basic Income is not a partisan issue, but rather has gained support across the spectrum. It also offers a look at the benefits of the Universal Basic Income as they pertain to both the underprivileged and the “1%”. This article offers a fairly balanced and realistic view of the Universal Basic Income, supporting my thesis by identifying the ways in which members of the public could prosper from the implementation of this system.

Marston, G. Peterie, M. (2020). Is universal basic income a desirable alternative to conditional welfare? Social Alternatives. 39. 1, 39-46.
Focused in Australia, this peer-reviewed article assesses the current state of conditional welfare programs as they were developed and as they have changed over time. The article examines the effectiveness of current conditional programs at countering poverty in the 21st century. This article highlights the shortcomings of a punitive approach to motivating those on social assistance, such as clawbacks and stigma. It also discusses the failure of the government to address problems with the labour market which directly impact the marginalized and those in poverty. This article offers a balanced view of the evidence supporting the UBI, as well as addressing the concerns of those opposed and the challenges that may arise when implementing this new system. This article supports my thesis by examining how a conditional welfare system fails to elevate those in poverty, leaving them victim to the “poverty trap”, an inability to easily change their social location. The authors of this article also highlight the wider role stigma plays in the lives of those on social assistance and how it works against them.

Morley, C. Ablett, P. Mays, J. (2019). A Universal Basic Income: What difference might it make? Social Alternatives. 38. 2. 11-18. 
This is another peer-reviewed article that offers a useful reflection upon the shortcomings of the current welfare state as seen by human services educators and social workers. It highlights the negative impacts on disadvantaged members of society including those who are employed, but who lack labour security.  This article also notes the negative effect of stigma on those in poverty, including common misconceptions about those suffering from joblessness or underemployment. It highlights the role of autonomy and personal choice, or lack thereof, in the lives of those collecting social assistance under the current system. These points are presented in contrast to what might happen if a Universal Basic Income took the place of the current system and the impact it could have on the poor. This article supports my thesis by highlighting the benefits which could come from the empowerment of those in poverty, as well as the positive impacts of ending judgment and stigma towards those in need of help.

Mulvale, J P. (2019) Social-ecological transformation and the necessity of Universal Basic Income. Social Alternatives. 38. 2. 39-46. 
This peer-reviewed article makes a case for the Universal Basic Income from an ecological standpoint. It lists the benefits that the Universal Basic Income could have on the environment, as well as some of the possible disadvantages that it could cause. The author includes the Universal Basic Income in a wider plan for the future, focusing on environmental issues and the pressing need for action in the face of climate change. This article helps to support my thesis in that a Universal Basic Income could improve the lives of citizens overall, and not just those who are underprivileged.

Leave a Reply