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Could a universal basic income (UBI) fundamentally change the picture of poverty, health, and well-being in a country? How would it work? What effects would it have?
Those are some of the questions raised by the Indian Ministry of Finance’s 2017 Economic Survey, which considers—but does not commit to—the idea of a large-scale experiment in UBI.
The Survey’s lead author is Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the government of India and a CGD senior fellow on leave. Subramanian spoke at a recent CGD event on the big ideas currently shaping India’s economy, and he joined me on the podcast to continue the discussion.
One of the big benefits of a UBI, he tells me on the podcast, is that it provides people with a “minimum wherewithal” they can use to access credit, invest, or respond to emergencies. The main challenge, on the other hand, is that the money obviously has to come from somewhere: “you can’t pay for it unless you get rid of something else.”
Last week, CGD co-hosted an event with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with a simple premise that contradicts much conventional wisdom: refugees are not a burden, but a development asset. That premise compels the question: what policies, financing, and partnerships are needed to realize the promise of mutual benefit?
In 2013, a CGD working group signaled important benefits of development impact bonds, and worked through some of the “how-to” of design and implementation. Yet five years later, only three development impact bonds have launched.