Dr Luke Martinelli, Research Associate at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR), has authored a new report which explores the relationship between basic income, automation and labour market change.

The report, which launches today at an event in Pall Mall, follows on from a two-year project, funded by DeepMind, and reviews theoretical and empirical evidence on how technological change impacts the labour market, and assesses arguments surrounding basic income, and whether it could provide an appropriate solution to crucial emergent policy problems.

In the report Dr Martinelli recognises the potential of basic income - an unconditional, universal and uniform payment made to all - as a solution to skill redundancy, low wages, and insecure work patterns, which could enable citizens to balance work and family life more optimally, manage life course transitions more effectively, and engage in lifelong education and skills upgrading.

However he also highlights that among such advantages, basic income faces a number of considerable trade-offs and political barriers. In this context, the report examines two empirical concerns: whether technological change could augment a political constituency in favour of basic income; and the fiscal and distributional effects of different types of basic income across the EU28.

The report argues that highly educated precarious workers, motivated by both insecurity and cosmopolitan values, could be a central constituency of support for basic income in the future. At the same time, households which stand to lose the most if basic income replaced existing welfare provisions include large and politically powerful demographics: pensioners and labour market insiders.

The report also addresses the inconvenient political ‘demand-capacity’ paradox when it comes to basic income, whereby countries with the most to gain (large number of potential beneficiaries) typically face the greatest challenges in ‘supplying’ it.