Universal Basic Income: Populism Comes to the Fore

  • Will Hickey


Westphalian systems of sovereign nation-states have a vested interest in preventing “beggar thy neighbor” economic issues, where poorer neighbors exacerbate economic push/ pull factors, such as illegal immigration in the former and higher paid employment (Polish plumbers in the UK) in the latter. However, this is all oversimplified. Countries with large populations of the underemployed, but overly educated citizens, such as the US, U.K., Spain, Turkey, and even India, have spoken of creating a UBI, or “Universal Basic Income” in the face of automation, robotization, AI, 5G, and overcapacity wiping out so many semi- and unskilled jobs. Yet some of these countries border on poor, large population countries with many unskilled workers, such as Mexico, Myanmar, and sub-Saharan Africa. Can a UBI really be universal and address cross-border needs? Further, does demotivating populations create more problems than solve them, and will rich countries be willing to subsidize their poorer neighbors in a UBI scheme?

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Will Hickey
    • 1
  1. 1.Former two-time US Fulbright Professor, 2003 & 2009Professor of Management, GDUFSCantonChina

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