Incentives under Automation and Basic Income
Globalization and technological acceleration are having a large impact on employment. The profit motive is the primary driver in a company's decision to move operations offshore and/or to introduce machines that can replace labor. Since the beginning of the 21st century we are seeing increasing automation and several scholars have already identified many professions that are likely to be displaced by technology with negative effects on employment. Along with this process there has also been an increasing interest in a potential solution, that of universal and unconditional basic income. The main concern with a program of this sort is the incentives that it creates when people can receive a basic survival income with no conditions. There is a concern that some people would stop working and others could engage in unproductive and potentially destructive behaviors. In this paper we present the results of a survey conducted in the United States that presents scenarios of a basic income to determine the type of activities people think they would do if they were given an amount substantially below the poverty line or an amount above it. The research relies on theories about incentives from psychology and economics and contributes to the discussion that both policymakers and scholars are having about this topic that could help guide efforts being made in designing support programs in an age of automation.
Martha Garcia Murillo is a Professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. She has an M.S. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Public Policy. She has been involved in research and consulting projects for the UN-ITU, US State Department, The World Bank and other national, regional and international organizations. Her research focuses on the impact on technology on development, the impact of regulation on business behavior, the impact of technology on regulation. In these areas she has explored the impact of ICTs on corruption, informal economies, new businesses and employment among others. Her current research focuses on the impact of technology on employment and the potential impact that a universal service income can have on incentives.
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