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Basic Income in the Capitalist Economy: The Mirage of “Exit” from Employment
Basic Income Studies (2016)
  • Simon Birnbaum, Stockholm University
  • Jurgen De Wispelaere, University of Tampere
A widespread argument in the basic income debate is that the unconditional entitlement to a secure income floor improves workers’ bargaining position vis-a-vis their employers. Basic income effectively grants all (potential) workers an exit option from an employment relation that fails to take her interests into account. It gives them the “power to say no”, as argued by Karl Widerquist. Surprisingly, given its importance, the exit argument itself has not been subjected to much systematic analysis by basic income advocates. In this paper we critically examine the exit argument and suggest that, under current economic conditions, an exit strategy might end up worsening rather than strengthening the opportunity set and bargaining position of the most vulnerable workers.
  • basic income,
  • exit option,
  • vulnerable workers,
  • strike,
  • voice
Publication Date
October, 2016
Citation Information
Simon Birnbaum and Jurgen De Wispelaere. "Basic Income in the Capitalist Economy: The Mirage of “Exit” from Employment" Basic Income Studies Vol. 11 Iss. 1 (2016) p. 61 - 74
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