DOI: 10.12924/si2013.01020084 |Publication Date: 6 September 2013
Cash Transfers, Basic Income and Community Building
Abstract: The austerity movement in high-income countries of Europe and North America has renewed calls for a guaranteed Basic Income. At the same time, conditional and unconditional cash transfers accompanied by rigorous impact evaluations have been conducted in low- and middle-income countries with the explicit support of the World Bank. Both Basic Income and cash transfer programs are more confidently designed when based on empirical evidence and social theory that explain how and why cash transfers to citizens are effective ways of encouraging investment in human capital through health and education spending. Are conditional cash transfers more effective and/or more efficient than unconditional transfers? Are means-tested transfers effective? This essay draws explicit parallels between Basic Income and unconditional cash transfers, and demonstrates that cash transfers to citizens work in remarkably similar ways in low-, middle- and high-income countries. It addresses the theoretical foundation of cash transfers. Of the four theories discussed, three explicitly acknowledge the interdependence of society and are based, in increasingly complex ways, on ideas of social inclusion. Only if we have an understanding of how cash transfers affect decision-making can we address questions of how best to design cash transfer schemes.
Keywords: basic income; conditional cash transfer; guaranteed annual income; negative income tax; social inclusion; unconditional cash transfer