A quantifiable model of a global basic income & cash transfer programmes

Siwecki, Daniel Adam (2024) A quantifiable model of a global basic income & cash transfer programmes. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis is organized into three distinct yet interconnected chapters, each investigating its own set of unique research questions and employing respective methodological approaches. Collectively, these chapters contribute to the overarching aim of facilitating a more comprehensive understanding of basic income and cash transfer systems. Furthermore, this exploration places an additional emphasis on studying these systems in the context of economic instability and times of crisis.

Chapter One develops a theoretical model exploring the impact of a lifetime basic income on economic decision-making in the presence of investment and risk. Theorising the presence of an affordable lifetime basic income can act as a form of insurance which can increase the adoption of high-risk, high-return actions and result in increased overall economic activity, increasing incomes and growth. The results further suggest that basic income programs can be feasibly self-financing through a dedicated mutual insurance scheme concept, where the additional funds generated from the increased economic activity can be used to finance the basic income.

These findings have implications for policy-making efforts aimed at promoting economic growth and reducing poverty and inequality. Additionally, the provision of an affordable lifetime basic income can serve as a valuable tool for reducing the economic vulnerability of individuals and households, especially in the context of unforeseen negative income shocks. Moreover, the results emphasise the importance of considering the interaction between risk and income in decision-making, where the provision of a basic income can help to mitigate the economic impacts of negative income shocks, especially for individuals and households who would wish to purse a high-risk-high-return-based investment path out of poverty. Suggesting this can help to reduce poverty and inequality and promote economic well-being.

The COVID-19 crisis was a humanitarian disaster unlike any this century; compulsory stayat-home orders in conjunction with mass layoffs and many becoming too sick to work pushed welfare systems across the globe to breaking point. This crisis has underscored the crucial role of a robust, well-functioning welfare system in acting as a last-line safety-net against hardship for all, even those who may never have considered themselves in danger of income insecurity previously.

Therefore, it is imperative to analyse models of welfare not only during times of stability but crucially during the inevitable occurrence of times of instability too, black-swan style shocks which, if unprepared for, can plunge millions into hardship.

Considering the study of alternative welfare systems during both periods of stability and crisis as imperative, Chapter Two adopts a Narrative Economics approach, as outlined in (Shiller, 2021), to investigate the changing UK media narrative surrounding the welfare policy of a basic income during the COVID-19 crisis. By doing so, we aim to better understand the positive shift in preferences relating to aspects of basic income during the period of crisis, that was identified by (Nettle, et al., 2021) who observed “substantially more positive attitudes” towards basic income over the Pandemic and speculate media discussion as a potential causal originator.

This Chapter examines two corpora of UK news articles: one comprising all written articles published between 01/04/2018 and 01/04/2019 where N=312, serving as a pre-Pandemic baseline, and the other encompassing all written articles published between 01/04/2020 and 01/04/2021 where N=585, representing the post-Pandemic period. Employing the thematic analytical method outlined by (Braun & Clarke, 2006), Chapter Two analyses the key themes of the media narratives surrounding basic income during the two time periods. Enhancing the method through empirically analysing the qualitative data via quantification through thematic coding, enabling a deeper analysis of the two large corpora of articles.

This allowed for the identification five distinct themes characterising the pre-Pandemic narrative surrounding basic income and an additional six themes to characterise the postPandemic period. By comparing these themes, Chapter Two reveals the evolutionary progression of thematic changes, offering a comprehensive understanding of the emergent aggregated media narratives during the crisis. Findings indicate a significant shift towards favourability regarding the policy of basic income, particularly with its speculated implications for alleviating many of the new social costs wrought by the pandemic, this principal finding is identified the New Crisis Narrative of Basic Income.

Chapter Three employs a rigorous research design, combining a randomized control data collection and Difference-in-Differences analysis, to examine the influential effects of the identified National Crisis Media Narratives of the 2020 Covid Pandemic upon confidence in the effectiveness of alternative welfare systems, specifically Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Targeted Welfare (TW) systems. The study measures the impact across 21 outcome variables, comprehensively representing a desirable welfare system. The findings reveal a substantial and immediate influence of media pandemic narrative treatment on confidence levels, persisting significantly 15-21 days post-treatment.

Furthermore, the study explores the role of covariates related to unique Lived Crisis Experience in enhancing receptivity to national crisis narratives and policy perceptions, capturing personal, emotional, financial, health-related, and community impacts. Notably, the covariates demonstrate a boost in responsiveness, enhancing receptivity to policy perception changes triggered by the crisis narratives present at the time, except for instances where participants reported “admittance to an intensive care unit” (particularly in the case of UBI) and experienced “long-term health implications” (for TW). In these cases, negative reactions towards the respective policies were observed in response to the crisis narratives.

The study's main data collection involved a total of N=956 participants. Allocated randomly to either the placebo (Group A) or treatment (Groups B through E), which consisted of N=194, 190, 191, 192, and 189, respectively.

The main study (Part 1) was conducted simultaneously on the same day, beginning at 9 a.m. GMT (UTC+00:00), with each participant recording both baseline control and post-treatment response data. Part 2 of the study was conducted utilising longitudinal data of the same participants. Data collection commenced exactly 15 days after the initial data collection (of Part 1) and remained active for an additional 6 days. The follow-up data collection (Part 2) consisted of N=886, with Groups A through E consisting of N=181, 177, 175, 180, and 173, respectively.

The findings shed light on the intricate relationship between media crisis narratives, welfare system perceptions, and personal crisis experiences, contributing to the broader understanding of policy effectiveness and societal well-being. While also serving to highlight the implied responsibilities of those who work to present national narratives as they emerge, as well as those who work to design welfare strategies and must forecast performance over not only periods of growth but crucially times of severe and unexpected instability.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from CoSS PhD Scholarship.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Supervisor's Name: Ghosal, Professor Sayantan and Koutmeridis, Dr. Theodore
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84426
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2024 13:33
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2024 13:33
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84426
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/84426

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