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Universal basic income: has its time come?

Time (GMT +01) 13:00 14:30


Elizabeth Stuart @ElizStuart - Head of Programme, Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme, ODI

Introductory remarks

Francesca Bastagli @FraBastagli ‏ - Head of Programme and Principal Research Fellow, ODI


Shanta Devarajan @shanta_wb - Chief Economist, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank (via video link)

David Piachaud @DavidPiachaud - Professor of Social Policy, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics

Shamika Ravi @ShamikaRavi - Senior Fellow of Governance Studies Program, Brookings India, India (via video link)

Ilkka Kaukoranta @ikaukora - Chief economist, SAK, Finland (via video link)



The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has grown in popularity in the last year, with politicians and entrepreneurs around the world arguing that it could solve some of the greatest challenges of our time. Trials are underway in countries from Finland to Kenya, where participants are granted a regular and unconditional income, irrespective of their work status. In the context of shifting labour trends and the rise of automation, some argue that a UBI could help keep people out of poverty, while curbing the effects of economic insecurity, low pay and unemployment.

But would equal payments to all citizens help close the gap between rich and poor? Would a system that works for a country such as Finland have the same success in developing and emerging economies? And crucially, how would a UBI be funded?

Experts supporting both sides of the debate explore whether now is the time to introduce a universal basic income.

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