Ben Spies Butcher and Troy Henderson - Pathways for an Australian Basic Income

This meeting features Ben Spies-Butcher and Troy Henderson discussing the paper "Between universalism and targeting: Exploring policy pathways for an Australian Basic Income" by Ben Spies-Butcher, Ben Phillips, and Troy Henderson.

The paper is available here:

Abstract of the paper: Despite growing interest in proposals for a universal basic income, little advance has been made in implementation. Here we explore policy options for an Australian Basic Income. Our analysis responds to concerns that Basic Income is both too expensive and too radical a departure from existing welfare state structures to be a feasible policy option. Drawing on policy and Basic Income scholarship we identify changes to Australia’s current means-tested benefits structures that move substantially towards Basic Income while remaining consistent with historic policy norms, which we call ‘affluence testing’. Using microsimulation we explore fiscal and distributional trade-offs associated with the implementation of an affluence-tested Basic Income. Our results suggest Basic Income has the potential to significantly reduce inequality and poverty while also requiring taxes to rise substantially. Placing these trade-offs in international context we find the policy would reduce inequality to levels similar to Nordic welfare states while increasing overall taxation to approximately the OECD average.

About Ben Spies-Butcher

Ben Spies-Butcher teaches Economy and Society and is Head of the Sociology Department at Macquarie University. Ben completed his PhD in Economics at the University of Sydney while working in the non-government sector on issues of human rights. His research focuses on the political economy of social policy and the welfare state, particularly how economic and political change shape social policy financing. His current research explores how financial logics common in the private sector are reshaping social policy through changes in public sector budgeting, and the potential for these changes to open new opportunities for egalitarian social provision. In addition to his academic publications, Ben is a regular contributor to The Conversation and is a Social Policy Whisperer for Power to Persuade. Ben is a Research Associate at the Retirement Policy and Research Centre at the University of Auckland, a member of the Policy Advisory Group for COTA NSW and was the 2017 Glenda Powell National Travelling Fellow for the Australian Association of Gerontology.

About Troy Henderson

Troy Henderson is a Political Economist with a particular interest in Basic Income Studies, economic and social policy reform, and the Political Economy of Work. He has recently completed his PhD thesis on ‘Basic Income as a Policy Option for Australia’ (2020) and has extensive teaching experience across the Political Economy Curriculum. Between 2017 and 2019 he worked as a Research Economist at the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute. He has published widely on Basic Income and labour market issues, presented at numerous Australian and international conferences, and appeared regularly in the media.

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