What would the effect of a universal basic income be on crime? A new study looks into Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend and suggests that it reduced property crimes.
The idea of a universal basic income (UBI)—an unconditional payment, without means-test or work requirement—has recently seen a resurgence of interest. Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, for example, considered (but ultimately rejected) including a basic income proposal as part of her 2016 campaign. In the UK, the opposition Labour party has announced it will include a basic income program in its next general election manifesto. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres suggested in 2018 to the General Assembly that governments may have to consider a universal basic income.
Advocates highlight the simplicity of UBI and the potential it may offer to address problems of poverty and inequality, helping to ensure that the proceeds of growth, increasingly driven by technology and automation rather than labor, can be more evenly distributed. Critics, aside from focusing on its cost, worry about the effect of a basic income on incentives to work.
Dorsett, R. (2020) Basic Income as a Policy Lever – Can UBI Reduce Crime?, Pro-Market (Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business) blog