The Economic Security Project Basic Income Reading List

We collected a reading list of some of the most useful and relevant articles, papers, videos from various perspectives to inform the conversation on basic income.

Check back for updates and feel free to leave your suggestions for additions below.

We hope you find it as valuable as we do!

* = particularly recommended


Overviews of UBI

  • Upstream Podcast // Universal Basic Income Part One: an idea whose time has come?
  • Upstream Podcast // Universal Basic Income Part Two: a bridge towards post-capitalism?
  • * Fortune// Clay Dillow, Brooks Rainwater // Why Free Money for Everyone is Silicon Valley’s Next Big Idea (June, 2017)
  • * FiveThirtyEight // Andrew Flowers // What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money? (April, 2016)
  • * Vox // Dylan Matthews // Basic income: The World’s Simplest Plan to End Poverty, Explained (April, 2016)
  • Vox// Dylan Matthews// A basic income would grow the economy.
  • * Politics & Society // Philippe Van Parijs // Basic Income: A Simple and Powerful Idea for the Twenty-first Century (March, 2004)
  • Vox // Dylan Matthews // The 2 most popular critiques of basic income are both wrong ( July 2017)
  • Reddit // Basic Income FAQ/wiki
  • Cato Institute // Michael Tanner // The Pros and Cons of a Guaranteed National Income (May, 2015)
  • Roosevelt Institute // David E. Thigpen // Universal Income: What Is It and Is It Right for the U.S.? (Oct, 2016)
  • The RSA // Anthony Painter & Chris Thoung // Creative citizen, creative state: the principled and pragmatic case for a Universal Basic Income in the UK (Dec, 2015)
  • Freakonomics Radio // Stephen Dubner // Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income? (April, 2016)

Past Programs, Pilots and Findings

Effects on the Economy

History of the Basic Income Idea

  • * Fortune // Matthew Heimer// A Brief History of Free Money (June, 2017)
  • Basic Income Earth Network // History of Basic Income // Based on chapter 1 of L’allocation universelle by Yannick Vanderborght and Philippe Van Parijs // Edited and abridged by Simon Birnbaum and Karl Widerquist (2005)

Overview of Past Pilots and Findings

Effects on Work

  • * Vox // Dylan Matthews // A guaranteed income for every American would eliminate poverty — and it wouldn’t destroy the economy (July, 2017)
  • Vox // Dylan Matthews // Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn’t (Nov, 2015)
  • Niskanen Center // Samuel Hammond // The Pro-Work Case for UBI (Jan, 2017)
  • The Long-Term Effects of Cash Assistance // David J. Price & Jae Song (Dec, 2016)
  • The Journal of Socio-Economics // Karl Widerquist // A Failure to Communicate: What (If Anything) Can we Learn from the Negative Income Tax Experiments? (Jan, 2005)
  • Medium // Daniel Hemel // Baselines, Incentives, and a Basic Income (July, 2016)
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Boston // Gary Burtless // The work response to a guaranteed income: a survey of experimental evidence (1986)

Effects on Health

  • Canadian Public Policy // Evelyn L Forget // The Town with No Poverty: The Health Effects of a Canadian Guaranteed Annual Income Field Experiment (2011)
  • The BMJ // Anthony Painter // A universal basic income: the answer to poverty, insecurity, and health inequality?

Current & Pending Pilots and Programs

United States


  • YC Blog // Sam Altman // Moving Forward on Basic Income (May, 2016)
  • TechCrunch // Kate Conger // Y Combinator announces basic income pilot experiment in Oakland (May, 2016)
  • Business Insider // Chris Weller // The inside story of one man’s mission to give Americans unconditional free money (June, 2016)

Stockton, California

  • * WIRED // Issie Lapowsky// Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government (October, 2017)
  • CNNMoney// Lydia DePillis// Free cash for everyone? Stockton, Calif.’s mayor plans to see if it works (October, 2017)
  • New America// Aleta Sprague// A Universal Basic Income Would Set the Terms of a Progressive Agenda (November, 2017)
  • * The Atlantic // Alexis Madrigal // Free Money at the Edge of the Tech Boom (October, 2017)


  • The RSA // Jake Thorold // What Alaska Can Teach Us About Social Policy ( July, 2017)
  • Quartz // Michael J. Coren // Alaska shows even people in the most conservative states prefer a basic income to lower taxes ( June, 2017)
  • Business Insider // Chris Weller // The largest cash transfer program in the US just got a huge vote of confidence ( June, 2017)



  • The Guardian // Guy Standing // Universal Basic Income is Becoming an Urgent Necessity (Jan, 2017)
  • Associated Press // John Leicester // As Robots Take Jobs, Europeans Mull Free Money for All (Jan, 2017)
  • The Guardian // Philip Oltermann // State handouts for all? Europe set to pilot universal basic incomes (June, 2016)
  • New York Times // Peter Goodman // Free Cash in Finland. Must be Jobless (Dec, 2016)
  • The Guardian // Libby Brooks // Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland (Jan, 2017)
  • The Atlantic // Tracy Brown Hamilton // The Netherlands’ Upcoming Money-for-Nothing Experiment (June, 2016)
  • Business Insider // Chris Weller // A Dutch city is giving residents free money, no strings attached (June, 2015)
  • The Economist // Finland tests a new form of welfare ( June, 2017)


  • Quartz // Madhura Karnik // India’s most conflict-ridden state becomes the first in the country to commit to a universal basic income (Jan, 2017)

Policy Variants and Alternatives

Universal Child Allowance

  • The Century Foundation // Clio Chang & Jeff Madrick // Investing in Our Kids Using One Simple Tool: Cash (March, 2015)
  • The Century Foundation // Infographic // Show Kids The Money: The case for cash allowances in America (Feb, 2015)
  • The Century Foundation // Irwin Garfinkel, David Harris, Jane Waldfogel, and Christopher Wimer // Doing More for Our Children: Modeling a Universal Child Allowance or More Generous Child Tax Credit (March, 2016)
  • The Nation // Mike Konczal // These Policies Could Move America Toward a Universal Basic Income (Aug, 2016)
  • Medium // Greg Duncan // When a Basic Income Matters Most (Dec, 2016)
  • Niskanen Center // Samuel Hammond & Robert Orr // Toward a Universal Child Benefit (Oct, 2016)
  • Cato Institute Blog // Michael Tanner // Not So Fast on a Universal Child Benefit (Oct, 2016)
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities // Policy Basics: The Child Tax Credit (Oct, 2016)

Negative Income Tax

Participation Income

  • The Political Quarterly // Anthony Atkinson // The Case for a Participation Income (1996)
  • Social Service Review // Jurgen De Wispelaere & Lindsay Stirton // The Public Administration Case Against Participation Income (Sept, 2007)

Universal Tax Credits

Job Guarantee

  • The Nation // Raúl Carrillo // Your Government Owes You a Job (April, 2014)
  • Cato Unbound // Robert Frank // Let’s Try a Basic Income and Public Work (Aug, 2014)
  • Boston Globe // Evan Horowitz // To end persistent poverty, a guaranteed job or free money? (July, 2016)
  • American Progress // Neera Tanden et al // Toward a Marshall Plan for America: Rebuilding Our Towns, Cities, and the Middle Class

Political & Policy Change Strategies

Political Considerations

  • Medium // Peter Barnes // Can Basic Income Come to America? (June, 2016)
  • Tampere University Press // Jurgen De Wispelaere // An Income of One’s Own? The Political Analysis of Universal Basic Income (Dec, 2015)


  • Medium // Misha Chellam // Could universal basic income start with local and state legislation? (Dec, 2016)
  • Roosevelt Institute // Anat Shenker-Osorio // Money Is Nothing, Life Is Everything: Language Analysis on “Universal Basic Income” (2016)

Historical Precedents

Swiss Referendum

  • Basic Income News // Josh Martin // Swiss Vote “No” on Basic Income Referendum (June, 2016)
  • Basic Income News // Jurgen De Wispelaere // After Switzerland — Learning Political Lessons is Key (June, 2016)
  • Basic Income News // Philippe van Parijs // The worldwide march to basic income: Thank you Switzerland! (June, 2016)

Economic Security Project

  • Medium // Natalie Foster, Chris Hughes, and Dorian Warren // Moving People and Ideas: Announcing Our New Grantees (September, 2017)
  • The Hill// Chris Hughes // Let’s not give up on a guaranteed basic income before we’ve tried (September, 2017)
  • Medium // Taylor Jo Isenberg // What A New Survey From Alaska Can Teach Us About Basic Income (June, 2017)
  • Medium // Chris Hughes // The time has come to design, develop, and organize for a Basic Income (Dec, 2016)
  • Medium // Natalie Foster // Economic Security Project initial grants (Dec, 2016)
  • Medium // Statement of Belief, signed by 100+ leaders (Dec, 2016)

Arguments for UBI


  • The Atlantic // Matt Bruenig & Elizabeth Stoker // How to Cut the Poverty Rate in Half — It’s Easy (October, 2013)
  • Vox // Matt Yglesias // A universal basic income could absolutely solve poverty (May 2016)
  • CNN // John D. Sutter // The Argument for a Basic Income (March, 2015)


  • New York Times // Judith Shulevitz // It’s Payback Time for Women (Jan, 2016)

Racial Justice

Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Labor Flexibility

  • Washington Post // Roy Bahat // To Support Innovation, Subsidize Creators (Oct, 2015)
  • Fast Company // Michael Grothaus // How UBI Could Rescue the Freelance Economy (Jan, 2017)

Necessitated by Automation

  • New York Times // Farhad Manjoo // A Plan in Case Robots Take the Jobs: Give Everyone a Paycheck (March, 2016)
  • NPR // Queena Kim // As Our Jobs Are Automated, Some Say We’ll Need A Guaranteed Basic Income (Sept, 2016)
  • Inverse // Nickolaus Hines // Robots Could Make Universal Basic Income a Necessity (Aug, 2016)


  • * The Atlantic // Noah Gordon // The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income (Aug, 2014)
  • The Wall Street Journal // Charles Murray // A Guaranteed Income for Every American (June, 2016)
  • Cato Unbound // Matt Zwolinski // The Pragmatic Libertarian Case for a Basic Income Guarantee (Aug, 2014)
  • City Journal // Guy Sorman // Why Not a Negative Income Tax? (2011)


  • * Medium // David Rolf // Why would a Labor Leader Support a Universal Basic Income? (Dec, 2016)
  • Medium // Matt Bruenig // The UBI already exists for the 1% (Dec, 2016)
  • Washington Post // Mike Konczal // Thinking Utopian: How about a universal basic income? (May, 2013)
  • American Prospect // Robert Kuttner // A Conversation with Andy Stern on the Case for a Universal Basic Income (June, 2016)
  • Boston Review // Brishen Rogers // How Not to Argue for Basic Income (Oct, 2016)

Middle of the Road

  • LATimes // Sebastian Johnson// The Case for Basic Income ( July, 2017)
  • New Yorker // James Surowiecki // The Case for Free Money (June, 2016)

Critiques and Concerns

Could Make Poverty Worse

  • * Center on Budget and Policy Priorities // Robert Greenstein // Universal Basic Income May Sound Attractive But, If It Occurred, Would Likelier Increase Poverty Than Reduce It (May, 2016)
  • New York Times // Eduardo Porter // A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty (May, 2016)
  • The Independent // Emran Mian // Don’t fall for universal basic income — it’s a utopian fiction that wastes public money on the rich (March, 2016)

Silicon Valley is Out of Touch

  • Vox// Matt Yglesias // Silicon Valley’s basic income fans should should spare a minute to defend the actual safety net ( June, 2017)
  • * NewCo Shift // Lenny Mendonca // If UBI is the Answer, What is the Question? (Jan, 2017)
  • Vice // Nathan Schneider // Why the Tech Elite Is Getting Behind Universal Basic Income (Jan, 2015)
  • The Guardian // Jathan Sadowski // Why Silicon Valley is Embracing Universal Basic Income (June, 2016)

Libertarian and Conservative Concerns

  • Wall Street Journal // Greg Ip // Revival of Universal Basic Income Proposal Ignores Needs of Labor Force (July, 2016)
  • Cato Unbound // Jim Manzi // How Much Disincentive Is Too Much? (Aug, 2014)
  • Bloomberg View // Megan McArdle // Four Reasons a Guaranteed Income Won’t Work (Dec, 2013)
  • National Review // Jim Manzi // Against the Negative Income Tax (Feb, 2011)

Don’t Give Up On Jobs

  • * Business Insider // Josh Barro // An Idea That Should Die After 2016: The Universal Basic Income (Dec, 2016)
  • Wired // Klint Finley // The White House’s Fix for Robots Stealing Jobs? Education (Dec, 2016)
  • Bloomberg View // Tyler Cowen // My Second Thoughts About Universal Basic Income (Oct, 2016)
  • New York Times Blog // Ross Douthat // When Work Disappears (Feb, 2014)

Misc Videos



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