Why Basic Income's Emancipatory Value Exceeds Its Monetary Value

Standing, Guy
December 2015
Basic Income Studies;Dec2015, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p193
Academic Journal
This article argues that the emancipatory value of a basic income is greater than its monetary value, drawing on the results of a large-scale basic income scheme conducted in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh between 2010 and 2013. The scheme was evaluated by comparing households in villages where everyone received a small cash payment each month with households in similar villages where no one did. The evaluation results showed much stronger than anticipated benefits of a very modest basic income, equivalent to about a third of subsistence. It is argued here that this arises because cash payments alleviate the contrived scarcity of money itself, a cause of chronic indebtedness and impoverishment. Using data and illustrative case studies on debt, savings and financial inclusion, the article demonstrates how a basic income improves economic security beyond its monetary value, which can be termed its emancipatory value. It further concludes that a basic income would have an emancipatory effect for the growing precariat around the world.


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