Taking the "G" out of BIG: A comparative political economy perspective on basic income

Peter J. Boettke, Adam Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Basic Income Guarantee proposals aim at, among other objectives, the salutary goal of providing a minimum income floor beneath which individuals cannot fall. We analyze this family of proposals through the lens of comparative political economy, arguing that politics is not an appropriate institutional environment for pursuing the end of an income floor. Once the notion of a guaranteed income is cast in realistic, probabilistic terms, it becomes a live question whether the market or the polity can better secure a Basic Income. Actual markets must be compared to real-world political processes rather than idealized policy proposals in order to ascertain their desirability. Drawing on the extant literature on the failure of political processes to realize the goals of other redistributive programs, we argue that Basic Income Guarantee proposals likewise ignore politics as practiced and are thus equally subject to critiques both of their meansends coherence and their vulnerability to political opportunism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalBasic Income Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


  • Basic income
  • Comparative political economy
  • Generality norm
  • Libertarianism
  • Redistribution
  • Robustness
  • Universal welfare
  • Welfare policy
  • Welfare reform
  • Welfare state


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