Is Basic Income restricted to the Nation-state?


By definition, a basic income is paid by a government of some sort out of publicly controlled resources. In most proposals, the basic income is supposed to be paid, and therefore funded, at the level of a Nation-state, as sometimes indicated by the very choice of such labels as “state bonus”, “national dividend” or “citizen’s wage”. However, it can in principle also be paid and funded at the level of a politically organised part of a Nation-state, such as a province or a commune. Indeed, the only political unit which has ever introduced a genuine basic income, as defined, is the state of Alaska in the United States (see Palmer 1997). A basic income can also conceivably be paid by a supra-national political unit. Several proposals have been made at the level of the European Union (see Genet and Van Parijs 1992) and some also, more speculatively, at the level of the United Nations (see e.g. Kooistra 1994, Frankman 1998, Barrez 1999).