UBIEXP - The Political Philosophy and Epistemology of Basic Income Experiments
UBIEXP is an international research team based at the Centre for Ethics, Politics & Society (CEPS), at the University of Minho, in Braga, Portugal.
UBIEXP researchers work on basic income generally and basic income experiments in particular. Our research group has received a grant of € 196.029.25 from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology to do research on UBI experiments, for the period of 2018-2021.
Our main research projects are the following:
Basic income has become a major feature of the policy debate in both mature welfare states -Europe, Canada and the US- and several developing countries.
In contrast to a mere decade ago, mainstream policy-makers and stakeholders are regarding UBI as a key policy instrument in reforming social protection for the coming decades.
In recent years much of the UBI debate has focused on piloting UBI experiments: India has recently completed an experiment (and may decide to conduct a follow-up study), while similar schemes are being piloted in Finland, Kenya and Uganda since January 2017. Moreover, UBI experiments are being designed or seriously considered in countries as diverse as Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, France, to name the most advanced policy discussions. Experiments are primarily aimed at exploring how UBI impacts on the individual and social wellbeing of its recipients as well as obtaining robust evidence of changes in people's behaviour under a UBI policy regime.
Specifically, most experiments are strongly oriented towards analyzing the pervasive objection that an UBI would result in significant labour market withdrawal.
At the same time, those proposing UBI are also adamant that experiments not merely focus on this question but instead cover a myriad of potential individual and social effects, including productive time use outside of the labour market, community and political involvement, effects on health and wellbeing, and so on. In addition to using experimental design, proponents of piloting UBI are also interested in fieldtesting the implementation of UBI proposals and discovering (and in some cases remedying) the legal, social and political constraints of real-world policy implementation. This increased interest in UBI can be situated in the recent development in the policy process towards so-called evidence-based policy-making and the increased role of largescale social experiments as the "gold standard" for obtaining policy-relevant evidence.
The main objective of our research team is to examine a series of philosophical and practical considerations related to this recent evolution towards increased evidence-based policy-making and, specifically, in relation with the role of pilots and experiments in relation to the UBI idea.
These considerations pertain to the nature of the questions UBI experiments are meant to answer, ethical considerations of piloting an experimental design (dividing the population in a treatment and control group), the social epistemology of experiments under conditions of epistemic uncertainty and policy disagreement, the epistemic status of evidence derived from experiments in evidence-based policy-making, and the relation between experimental evidence and political theories offering a justification for adopting UBI policy.