Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 10:30 am

Universal Basic Income

Granting every American citizen over 21-years old a universal basic income of $13,000 a year — financed by eliminating all transfer programs (including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, housing subsidies, household welfare payments, and farm and corporate subsidies) — would be a better policy than the status quo.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel
Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 4
Current US status quo is horrible. A more efficient and generous social safety net is needed. But UBI is expensive and not generous enough
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Strongly Disagree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Banerjee Abhijit Banerjee MIT Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Brunnermeier Markus Brunnermeier Princeton Disagree 5
Total health expenses and risk will remain high for individuals. It might also shift the norm whether to work. Work = being part of society
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Disagree 6
The current programs, while having incentive issues and other flaws, disproportionately focus on children and the elderly.
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Strongly Disagree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Uncertain 5
Field experiments/empirical studies are promising, but we should wait for data (e.g. from the Oakland experiment).
Bio/Vote History
         
Einav Liran Einav Stanford Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Finkelstein Amy Finkelstein MIT Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Disagree 3
better policy for who? easy to identify families worse off & good potential to wreak havoc on insurance mrkts. plus need social welf functn
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Disagree 3
Limitation to people over 21 can't be the right answer.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hart Oliver Hart Harvard Strongly Disagree 10
Bill Gates would get 13K, which is crazy. Raising taxes is costly and so redistribution should be targeted to those who need help most.
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Strongly Disagree 10
Even if the $13K # came from coherent theory/evidence (which it does NOT), this ignores all tagging logic of social insurance/optimal tax.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoynes Hilary Hoynes Berkeley Strongly Disagree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Strongly Disagree 8
13K is inadequate for anyone with no other income. Some people eligible for welfare choose to not apply, making this proposal unnecessary.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kaplan Steven Kaplan Chicago Agree 2
UBI is step in right direction, but very complicated. Devil would be in details. So, lots of uncertainty.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago No Opinion
Lots of conflicting incentives that can discourage work in the existing rules. I have no idea if scrapping the whole system would be better
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Disagree 5
John Cochrane proposes variants that would be better.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Disagree 5
Provocative idea but as stated would cost ~$3 trillion, equal to all federal tax revenue. What about e.g. national defense?
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Disagree 5
A minimum income makes sense, but not at the cost of eliminating Social Security and Meidcare.
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Disagree 6
And the children get nothing? The basic idea is sound but too simplistic as stated.
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Samuelson Larry Samuelson Yale Uncertain 1
There is much to recommend a universal basic income, but specifically a 13k income while ending all other transfers is difficult to assess.
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Disagree 6
A properly designed negative income tax could be part of a better policy, but replacing everything is a bad idea.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shapiro Carl Shapiro Berkeley Strongly Disagree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Shimer Robert Shimer Chicago Uncertain 8
Simplicity and improvement in some incentives are good. But largely this policy would be redistributive.
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago No Opinion
This is a dumb question. We are not going to eliminate Social Security and Medicare etc.
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Disagree 6
The simplicity is attractive, but deceptive. Coupled with universal health care & tax reform it could work. but we are far from that.
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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