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Basic Income and Social Democratic Policies

Social Democracy in the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-83909-953-3, eISBN: 978-1-83909-952-6

ISSN: 0195-6310

Publication date: 29 January 2021


The ideational connections between social democracy and basic income is the theme of this article. Social democracy is not a fixed doctrine, but as a movement it shares some key ideas with the policy of basic income, like solidarity, equal opportunity, freedom and social security. Due to current challenges emerging from waves of digitalisation, globalisation, etc., the support for a universal basic income has taken off, but not among social democratic politicians. The article argues that the social democratic policy of full employment implies an increasingly tough work orientation that is challenging to reconcile with de-commodifying social rights, which has characterized social democratic welfare states. It is further argued that a strict reciprocity-based policy has not proven effective in getting people into work on a permanent basis, and that the current challenges require new policy ideas. Two alternatives are discussed: guaranteed jobs and a basic income. The article argues that the lack of enthusiasm for the last option among social democrats is based on the misconception that a basic income will harm people's motivation to work, their self-respect, the social economy and the principle of justice. The article sheds light on this misconception. In the closing remarks, the proposal for an ‘emergency basic income’ is considered in view of the current global corona crisis.



Kildal, N. (2021), "Basic Income and Social Democratic Policies", Brandal, N., Bratberg, Ø. and Thorsen, D.E. (Ed.) Social Democracy in the 21st Century (Comparative Social Research, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 91-112.



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