Money for nothing? Arguments for basic income, universal pensions and universal child benefits in Norway
Not peer reviewed
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Basic income is a radical idea which has gained more attention in many countries in recent years, as traditional welfare states are having trouble solving the problems they were created to solve. Basic income promises to solve many of these problems in an effective and simple way. The purpose of this thesis is to study basic income in a way which can supplement the existing literature, and make it relevant in a Norwegian perspective. Hopefully this can contribute towards placing basic income on the political agenda and in the public debate. A large amount of literature is written on basic income, but by comparing the arguments used to promote a basic income with empirical data from previously implemented social policy in Norway, I hope to contribute towards an area which is not well covered.
To do this I identify the arguments used to promote a basic income, and compare them to the arguments used to promote other universal social policy in Norway at the time they were introduced. The empirical cases of the universal child benefit and the universal old age pension in Norway has been chosen, because they resemble a basic income in many ways. The study is of a qualitative nature, and the method of document analysis is used to conduct the study. The data material for basic income is mainly scholarly literature. The data materials used for the analysis of the child benefit scheme and the old age pension are government documents, mainly preparatory work for new laws, legal propositions put forward in parliament, white papers, and transcripts of debates in parliament.
This study finds that there are many similarities between the three social policies studied in this thesis. Most clearly the arguments are similar in two areas: arguments related to economic and administrative considerations, and arguments related to poverty and social justice. The main differences are related to arguments related to freedom and justice, and arguments related to feminist, green and post-productive considerations.