Basic or Universal? Pathways for a Universal Basic Income

  • John Quiggin
Part of the Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee book series (BIG)


A variety of forms of basic income (BI) have been proposed, including universal payments, guaranteed minimum incomes and negative income taxes. The relative merits of these proposals have been the subject of some debate. Much of the confusion surrounding the issue can be resolved by the observation that, in terms of their effect on the final distribution of income, after taxes and transfers, all three are equivalent, in the sense that any distribution arising from a universal payment can be replicated by a guaranteed minimum income or negative income tax. Despite this equivalence, the proposals imply different paths from the current situation to a BI, and therefore different political strategies. In this chapter, it is argued that a ‘basic first’ approach beginning with a guaranteed minimum income is the most likely to yield a feasible path to a BI and to raise crucial political challenges to the existing system.


Universal payment Negative income tax Guaranteed minimum income Transition Political strategies 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Quiggin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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