United Nations Calls For A Temporary Basic Income To Mitigate COVID-19 Crisis

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PMH

“This paper provides estimates for a Temporary Basic Income… for vulnerable people in 132 developing countries.”

The United Nations Development Programme released a new paper describing how developing nations can implement Temporary Basic Income as a means of fortifying their economies against downturns inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In a statement, the Programme explains that as new COVID-19 cases spread through the developing world, “the potentially devastating costs of job losses and income reversals” become increasingly apparent.
  • The Programme asserts that “Unconditional emergency cash transfers can mitigate the worst immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis on poor and near-poor households that do not currently have access to social assistance or insurance protection.”
  • Therefore, the Programme’s paper provides estimates for how a nation can implement a Temporary Basic Income to guarantee “income above the poverty line” for “vulnerable people in 132 developing countries.”

In the paper, the Programme proposes three different approaches that developing nations might take. Each would constitute between 0.27% and 0.63% “of their combined GDPs, depending on the policy choice.” The choices are as follows:

  • Relief aid to “top-up” existing average incomes up to a “vulnerability threshold”;
  • “Lump-sum transfers” that are “sensitive to cross-country differences” in the average standard of living; or
  • Universal lump-sum transfers that are “uniform regardless of the country where people live.”

The Programme’s statement concludes,

A temporary basic income is within reach and can inform a larger conversation about how to build comprehensive social protection systems that make the poor and near-poor more resilient to economic downturns in the future.

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