From Crackpot Idea to Mainstream Debate

The Public Debate and Popular Support for Universal Basic Income in the Netherlands

by Erwin Gielens

Over the past decade, the proposal for a Universal and Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) has become a serious alternative in policy-making circles. UBI promises replace the complex welfare bureaucracy with a single benefit – abandoning targets (such as the unemployed) and activation instruments (such as job-search requirements). This disarmingly simple idea has inspired policy experiments in many countries, the Netherlands among them. I show how UBI became a credible policy alternative in the Netherlands, with the capacity to fundamentally alter the course of the welfare state, but also at the risk of losing the underlying revolutionary ideals.


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  • publisher
    Open Press Tilburg University
  • publisher place
    Tilburg, The Netherlands
  • rights holder
    Erwin Gielens
  • doi