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Thursday, November 16, 2017

International Comparisons of UBI

In The Common Purpose Manifesto, I mentioned that a useful measure of international performance might be a simple comparison of the level of their shared base income (the SBI, which is a form of universal basic income or UBI).

Of course no country has a completely universal basic income (UBI) in place, let alone an SBI. However, partial UBIs exist, such as New Zealand's superannuation retirement income which is paid to all citizen 65 and over, and there are numerous countries with universal free (or highly subsidised) education and health services that are essentially an indirect form of universal income (where they are universally provided). Adding together the income of these provisions by country is unfortunately far from straightforward.

Aside from the income provision front, with an SBI we also have the half 'share' of profits wages and salaries. Performance on this can be calculated by comparing countries tax systems against the 50% flat tax of the SBI.

The best collated source of economic data is probably OECD Data. Unfortunately it's going to take quite a bit of work to shape the data available to universal incomes (direct or indirect). Even getting the right measures of public (govt.) sector spending is problematic.

The following example is government spending by 'individual'. Unfortunately the chart as 'shared' from OECD drops off the region names on the X-axis. The coloured bars are in fact Finland, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Sweden (in that order, left to right). The chart is interactive.

'Individual' spending is in services like healthcare and education which can supposedly be provided by the market and so is being called 'individual' (even if they are provided universally). This is opposed to 'social' spending on 'public goods' like defence and justice (I'm not sure where they've placed infrastructure spending at this point).

It won't be any surprise, I imagine, that Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, and Sweden are also in the top ten OECD countries for 'life satisfaction'. The other four countries in that top ten are Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. So given we know better sharing of income works better for our system, why aren't more nations doing it?

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