Hawaii considering universal basic income after positive trials in Europe

State becomes first in the US to pass legislation backing the policy

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 05 September 2017 18:16
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Research suggests that Hawaii workers could be hit particularly hard by technological advances
Research suggests that Hawaii workers could be hit particularly hard by technological advances

Hawaii is considering introducing a basic income for all its citizens.

The US state’s congress voted to look into the idea as research suggests a large number of current jobs are likely to be replaced by automated technology in the coming years.

State representative Chris Lee, who introduced the legislation, said: "Our economy is changing far more rapidly than anybody's expected.”

He added that it was important "to be sure that everybody will benefit from the technological revolution that we're seeing to make sure no one's left behind."

The bill declares that all families in Hawaii are entitled to “basic financial security” – paving the way for a policy that would guarantee this.

It also tasks several government offices with analysing the state’s economy and finding “ways to ensure all families have basic financial security, including an evaluation of different forms of a full or partial universal basic income."

Universal basic income (UBI) involves paying every citizen a set amount of money each month to live on, regardless of whether or not they are in work.

Hawaii is the first US state to pass legislation in support of UBI but a number of countries around the world have taken steps towards introducing the policy.

Finland and Germany have implemented pilot schemes and the Canadian province of Ontario is set to follow suit. The Dutch city of Utrecht is also trialling the policy.

Advocates say UBI is a more effective way of distributing money than current social welfare systems and will help people cope with the job losses resulting from new technology.

Critics, however, say it will discourage people from working and is prohibitively expensive.

Research suggests that Hawaii workers could be hit particularly hard by technological advances because many of the jobs in the tourism industry that fuels the state’s economy, such as waiters, cooks and cleaners, will eventually be replaced by machines.

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