In the first part of this series, we followed the introduction and abolition of the first ‘Basic Income’ scheme, the Speenhamland system in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. When Britain industrialised, cash benefits were replaced by the ‘New Poor Law’ and the Dickensian workhouse. The conclusion drawn by social reformers was that to end poverty and financial insecurity, they would have to work on a broad front: from industrial regulation to universal suffrage and the construction of a welfare state (social security, education and community services). This strategy was very successful, but now there are concerns that it no longer works and can’t be sustained.
This four-part series explores the genesis of the idea of a ‘basic income’, how this evolved into a more broadly-based strategy for social improvement, the risks to job security and the welfare state, and the role of a basic income in overcoming them.
It featured recently in the Australian Tax Transfer Institute’s policy blog
Part 1 examines the surprising origins of basic income. Continue reading
I haven’t blogged for a while. My excuse is that I’m writing up my PhD thesis comparing the emergence of activation policies in four countries: Australia, United Kingdom, Denmark, and the Netherlands. As you can imagine, this is taking a while!
In case this is a topic that interests you, here’s a sample of my work: a paper I presented at the FISS conference in Sigtuna Sweden in 2014 comparing activation in the UK and Denmark:
The conclusion? These two pioneers of activation policy took the same ideas – structural unemployment, activation, and New Public Management, and implemented them differently. They put the activation policy jigsaw together in different ways. Path dependency was at work here: the two countries had very different sets of labour market and social security institutions, and still do.
With an unemployment rate of 4.1%, Norway must be getting a few things right. In 2007 they did what few countries do: seriously invest in an employment program to reduce entrenched, long term unemployment. The two-year ‘Qualification Program’ aims to overcome social barriers to work as well as low skills. Participants must undertake full time activities and caseloads are 1:18. In a new twist on work incentives, they receive higher income support than similar unemployed people. It’s not cheap, but 4 years after starting the program, long term unemployed people are 18% more likely to be employed.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,200 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
The emerging narrative on tax reform in Australia goes like this:
- Yes, the GST is regressive (as clearly shown by a recent ACOSS analysis)
- But we rely more than most of our ‘competitors’ on income taxes
- And this is harmful to incentives to work, save and invest
- So, we should ‘change the tax mix’ by raising the GST in order to reduce personal income or company tax rates.
This blog answers the question: which are more economically efficient – personal income taxes or consumption taxes?