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The stability of basic income: a constitutional solution for a political problem?

  • Jurgen De Wispelaere (a1) and Leticia Morales (a2)

Although basic income has surged in policy interest in recent years, political research has not kept up with the debate in the trenches. In this article, we tackle a political problem any enacting coalition must face: how to ensure the political stability of a basic income over time. We first demonstrate how basic income schemes are particularly vulnerable to processes of policy change discussed in the recent policy feedback literature. We then analyse whether constitutionalising basic income in a Bill of Rights protected by strong judicial review would offer a valuable route for boosting basic income’s stability. A careful examination of the decision-making process within judicial review suggests that, caught up in a dilemma between judicial restraint and judicial activism, an enacting coalition would do well not to rely on constitutional mechanisms as the sole avenue for ensuring the political stability of basic income.

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