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The World Bank book "Exploring Universal Basic Income. A Guide to Navigating Concepts, Evidence, and Practices"

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The Institute for Social Policy at the National Research University Higher School of Economics will present the World Bank book Exploring Universal Basic Income. A Guide to Navigating Concepts, Evidence, and Practices. The book’s presentation will be assured by Ruslan Yemtsov, Human Development Program Leader for China, Mongolia and Korea and one of the book’s authors,and will take placeon Wednesday, February 26, at 6 p.m.on the HSE premises (Moscow, Pokrovsky bld, 11, Room F201).

The Panelists will be:

  • Rostislav Kapeliushnikov, Deputy Director, Center for Labor Market Studies, Higher School of Economics
  • Evgeny Gontmakher, Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, Higher School of Economics
  • Oksana Sinyavskaya, Deputy Director, Institute for Social Policy, Higher School of Economics
  • Svetlana Mareeva, Center Director, Center for Stratification Studies, Institute for Social Policy, Higher School of Economics
  • Elena Grishina, Head of the Laboratory for Living Standards and Social Protection Research, Institute of Social Analysis and Forecasting, RANEPA
  • Elena Nazarbaeva, expert, Centre for Studies of Income and Living Standards, Institute for Social Policy, Higher School of Economics

For quite a long time, the idea of universal basic income (UBI) was theorized with hundreds of books and articles. The endless disputes about the feasibility of UBI absorb a lot of effort and attention and confuse with a variety of interpretations and controversial assessments. To understand why it has persistently returned to politics, the press and scientific research, the World Bank is analyzing the place of this idea in the evolution of social policy.

This book brings it into a coherent framework and provides a complete picture of the history, implementation attempts, modifications, and prospects of UBI. Moreover, the methodology of assessing different variants of UBI takes into account all possible contexts, from developing countries to highly developed countries, analyzing the origins, motivations and options of UBI, possible social and economic consequences of implementation, expected impact on the labor market and employment, political factors contributing to and opposing implementation, technical and administrative prerequisites, possible options for interaction with the social protection system as a whole.

It is shown that UBI does not in principle contradict many trends of social policy development, presenting a form of solving current problems associated with the crisis of the traditional model of social protection and labor relations. Undoubtedly in its pure form, basic income would be an extremely costly policy option, where it would represent a step forward in social policy, in countries with underdeveloped social protection systems. In countries with an advanced UBI system, it is administratively and financially possible, but it is in conflict with many existing institutions. Therefore, in all cases, the idea of UBI is modified and integrated into the existing system during implementation attempts.

The book presents three alternative models of UBI and simulates the impact of implementation on the welfare of different groups of the population, on the tax burden, on the budget and on incentives to work by the example of ten countries (including Russia, Kazakhstan, Chile, Brazil and South Africa).

The book describes the experience of UBI implementation, negative and positive experiences of pilot schemes (two countries, Iran and Mongolia, have implemented full-scale UBI within several years, while in Alaska it has a long history and continues). These pilot projects permit to assess real political support for each new modification of the UBI. Proponents expect a positive demonstration effect, but this optimism is not yet justified.



Ruslan Yemtsov, PhD in Economics, Human Development Program Leader for China, Mongolia and Korea, World Bank

Prior to his current position, Ruslan Yemtsov was the Global Lead in the area of Social Safety Nets. During his career at the World Bank he also worked as Lead economist in the Middle East and North Africa region, and in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia regions. He co-authored reports, books and research articles on poverty, inequality, labor market, efficiency of public spending, and political economy of reform. This work covered global (The state of social safety nets in the world), regional (Poverty and inequality in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Fuel subsidy reform in the Middle East and North Africa), and country issues, including poverty assessments (Egypt, Georgia, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Turkey, Russia  and others), public expenditure reviews (Serbia, Russia, Egypt, Armenia) and rural development (Morocco, India). His operational experience includes working on social assistance reform projects (Morocco, Russia, Croatia, Tunisia, Uzbekistan), fuel subsidy reforms (Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan), crisis response (Djibouti), local social development funds (Georgia and Egypt), and cash transfers delivery systems (Croatia, Tunisia and Russia). In addition to his research and operational work, he organized major training events (South-South fora on social safety nets, poverty measurement courses, core courses on social safety nets, workshops on impact evaluation, economic policy courses) and authored several training manuals.



Venue: Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Pokrovsky bld, 11, Room F201

Date and time: February, 26, 2020, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Working language: Russian

The online registration https://www.hse.ru/polls/337254124.html before 9 am on Wednesday February 26, 2020 is required.

Media representatives are kindly asked to contact the University press service at press@hse.ru for accreditation to the event.