Basic income, decommodification and the welfare state

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (8):935-945 (2011)
According to Philippe Van Parijs, the superiority of an unconditional basic income (UBI) over conventional means-tested liberal welfare state programs lies in its decommodifying potential. In this article I argue that even if a UBI was sustainable at high enough a level to lessen the extent to which an individual is forced to sell his or her labor power in the market, it would nonetheless have the adverse and simultaneous effect of forcing that individual into further market transactions to satisfy his or her most basic needs. I conclude that the relative directness with which a welfare regime responds to basic needs qualifies as a crucial dimension of decommodification, and that the conventional liberal welfare state scores rather higher along this dimension than a UBI would
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DOI 10.1177/0191453711413715
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