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After reading an article on wiki and watching the Ted video on basic income system in a society and even M.Zuckerberg talks about it, nobody really addresses the issue of the workforce availability.

If every person is guaranteed a basic income who is there left to work/be employed? I think only more ambitious people will work. What will motivate the rest of the people?

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  • $\begingroup$ the same thing that motivate workers in the neoclassical theory. The fact that they value the revenu of that work more than the free time that they exchange against it. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Jun 12 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @njzk2, most people hate their jobs. Unless you provide them with something meaningful which is rare, people will not work. $\endgroup$
    – Grasper
    Jun 21 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ If I have free time, I can exchange it against a salary, and get more value out of the rest of my free time. Consider this: basic income are usually number around 500-1000$/month. Conservatively, from capital income, that's the interest from, say 300k at 4%. Quite a few people have 300k worth of assets, yet most of them choose to keep working. Very few people stop working once they reach this kind of number. $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Jun 21 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @njzk2, you aren't exchanging free time, you are exchanging your work that might not be worth of your effort if you get 1k for free. For a couple 2k can be enough to live from paycheck to paycheck. Sitting on the porch and smoking. Some might move to a different country/area with lower expenses but still get benefits from the US. You would be surprised how many will stop working if they get just some money to get by. Once you realize how comfortable it is not to do anything, you will not work. My argument is most will not work unless you force them in some way. Taking away health benefits.. $\endgroup$
    – Grasper
    Jun 22 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ You don't seem to see my point. A lot of people are already in a position to stop working and still receive 1k per month in interest from the capital they already own. Most of them keep working. Consider this: if you had nothing to do, would you exchange 1 day of work for the possibility of a good restaurant? Or a month of work for the money to go on vacation somewhere for a bit? $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Jun 22 at 18:02
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Brian's answer surely hit a major part of the issue - the level of the UBI. Yet, there are other aspects of the problem.

  1. People like to work. There is a huge amount of sociological literature showing that people derive considerable non-pecuniary benefits from work, or alternative, that lack of work leads to several personal (and social) undesirables (for example, here, here, and here). As Voltaire said,

Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.

Thus, many people will like to work. This is the supply side of the labour market.

  1. Firms will still need workers. Provided capital and robots do not take over all jobs, firms will still require some workers. If the supply of labour across skill levels is not high enough, then either migration will occur (perhaps politically undesirable, but historically favoured by firms), or wages will go up. The latter will induce more people to work.

The key is, then, not only the level of UBI, but whether there will be enough jobs. Perhaps there will not be, at least not for the current working week. Maybe Keynes' prediction of a 15-hour working week might finally become true.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most of people hate their jobs. Now in 2021 we can see the labor shortage and that's not even coming from guaranteed basic income but only from stimulus. What happens if the money are guaranteed monthly. Trust me, the labor shortage will be a norm. $\endgroup$
    – Grasper
    Jun 21 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ if there is a labour shortage, labour costs will rise to balance it $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Jun 21 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @njzk2 which will ruin businesses and forces bankruptcy. Giving people more money won't attract people to do a job they hate. There is many articles written saying pay increase won't make much difference. $\endgroup$
    – Grasper
    Jun 22 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Ah. So let's force people into jobs they hate, keeping people miserable, in order to save businesses from bankruptcy, then? $\endgroup$
    – njzk2
    Jun 22 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ well, that's how it works now. So yes but we can minimize suffering from work when we offer more options or opportunities so people don't feel stuck in one place. But giving people free money would destroy the current system. $\endgroup$
    – Grasper
    Jun 24 at 16:02
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The level of the basic income would have to be set at a level that the majority of the population is still willing to work to get more money than the basic amount, so that required work is still done. (The robots are not going to be taking over all the jobs for some time). From the proposals I have seen, it would be near the poverty level in the developed countries.

At that level, I believe there have been enough experiments to validate that most people would want to work to earn more than the minimum. There is a lot of studies showing that many people want to contribute, rather than sit around.

The problem may be effect on tax system. This other question on menial tasks seems to be related to your question. If there is no increased taxation to match the increased transfers, inflation would be quite high, given the size of the program. (This is discussed in my answer on the linked question in more detail.)

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  • $\begingroup$ But they can only work part time. Or the expenses will raise if all people have enough moneyto buy stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Grasper
    May 26 '17 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ The usual proposal is that the transfer is unconditional; everyone gets the amount, even if they work full time. If not, it's just another welfare program. Prices would rise if the extra spending is not offset with tax; I discussed that in my answer on the question I linked. $\endgroup$ May 27 '17 at 11:29

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