What role for basic income in a post-Covid world? | Lena Lavinas and Olli Kangas

Lavinas: Is Universal Basic Income (UBI) the one size-fits-all social policy of the post-pandemic era?

The idea of a universal basic income (UBI) has gained new momentum worldwide as a response to the dire consequences of the covid-19 pandemic. That same call was heard amid the 2008 great recession. However, what we have learned from the previous crisis is that “ad hoc” short-term measures, though often generous, are insufficient to compensate for losses and ensure long lasting socioeconomic security. Social policies are at a crossroads and need to be reformed. Is UBI the best move forward?  What are the advantages and drawbacks of casting UBI under the aegis of financialized capitalism?  


Kangas: Employment and well-being effects of basic income: evidence from the Finnish basic income experiment

The Finnish basic income (BI) experiment was obligatory, randomised, nation-wide field experiment with a treatment group and identical control group. There were 2,000 randomly selected unemployed assigned into the treatment group. The treated were somewhat (but not significantly) better than the control group in finding employment. However, there were significant differences in the overall wellbeing. The treated had fewer health and economic problems and experiences of bureaucracy and they were also more confident in their future capabilities and in their possibilities to have influence in their lives.


About the presenters:

Lena Lavinas is a Professor of Welfare Economics at the Institute of Economics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, teaching graduate and undergraduate students. Most of her research focuses on how welfare regimes adjust to changes in contemporary capitalism, especially under the aegis of financialization.  She is member of the International Advisory Board of Development and Change (2018-2023), among others. She was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 2019-2020 and a 2016-7 Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study). She has also been appointed Research Fellow at the Brazil Research Center at the Lateinamerika-Institut, Freie Universität, Berlin (2015-). She worked as Visiting Research Scholar and Visiting Professor in the Program of Latin American Studies (PLAS) at Princeton University in 2013. In 2012, she was invited as a Visiting Research Fellow to desigualdades.net – Research Network on Social Inequalities in Latin America - at the Freie Universität Berlin.  She has also been Senior Social Policy Analyst at the ILO from 2000 to 2003. From 1993 to 2000, she worked as Senior Economist, at the Social Policy Direction, at the Institute of Research in Applied Economics (IPEA), at the Ministry of Planning, Brazil. Among her recent publications: Lavinas L. “The Collateralization of Social policy by Financial Markets in the Global South” (The Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, edited by P. Mader, D. Mertens and N. Van der Zwan, London:Routledge: 2020); Lavinas L, and Denise Gentil. “Social Policy since Roussef. Misrepresentation and Marginalization” (Latin American Perspectives. First issue of 2020); “The Collateralization of Social Policy under Financialized Capitalism” (Development and Change, volume 49 issue 2, Forum 2018); The Takeover of Social Policy by Financialization: The Brazilian paradox (Palgrave Macmillan 2017) and A Moment of Equality for Latin America? Challenges for Redistribution, along with Barbara Fritz (Ashgate 2015).


Olli Kangas (PhD) is Director of the Equal Society Research Programme funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland and Professor at the Department of Social Research, University of Turku. Previously, he was the Director of Governmental Relations and Head of the Research Department at the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). He has worked as an Olof Palme Professor at the Department of Political Science at Uppsala University; H.C. Andersen Professor at the University of Southern Denmark, Professor at the Danish National Institute for Social Research, and Professor in Social Policy, University of Turku. His research interests revolve around comparative analysis of social policy systems, their causes and consequences in terms of the macro-economy, income distribution, health and well-being of the population, and legitimacy of social institutions.

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