Basic Income, A Tool Against Ageism?

Santeri A.
3 min readOct 24, 2019

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Basic Income could be indexed to age, replacing both child support and retirement pensions.

Credit: Rod Long

Some of the main questions that arise with designing a Basic Income model include its total cost and deciding at what age people would start receiving it (i.e., its universality). Basic Income is both expensive and challenging to implement. The potential total cost of such a reform depends not only on the amount distributed monthly multiplied by the number of people benefitting from it. It is also directly linked to the savings the reform could create by replacing existing programs and simplifying or even downsizing public administration. The more welfare programs can be replaced by it, the more realistic a future full-scale implementation becomes.

As a tool against ageism, including child support and retirement pensions in the welfare schemes it replaces, a system of Basic Income could be indexed to its recipient’s age. In this case, people would receive a certain amount of money monthly from their birth, and that amount would increase every year of their life. This money would directly be received by parents until a certain age (i.e., to replace child support) and then directly by the recipient from the age of 15 or 18, for example, depending on what age is considered old enough by the government. A new-born would start receiving X amount monthly, and this amount would increase every year by a fixed sum. If deciding that X is equal to 200 euros and that the fixed sum added yearly is equal to 15 euros, then a new-born would receive 200 euros of Basic Income a month, a 20-year-old would receive 500 euros, a 40-year-old 800, and a 60-year-old 1100. That is just an example, and the sums are technical questions up for debate. Another idea could be to index it to age for certain parts of life only. In this way, Basic Income could increase from birth until the age of 20, stay the same from 20 to 50, and start increasing again indexed to age after that.

Such a system would have certain advantages, including the fact that it could include people from their birth until their death, fighting poverty for the whole population, including young children. It would imaginably replace current programs such as child support, student allowances, unemployment benefits, housing help, and retirement pensions. Providing more to a 58-year-old than to a 29-year-old, it would potentially motivate older unemployed people to stay active and take on lower-paid jobs than their previous ones. This system would leave people with the choice of retiring when wanting to, but motivate them to work as long as the Basic Income is too low for the lifestyle they plan to have during retirement. This would also open up the possibility for people to pay for private retirement funds if they do not think that the Basic Income scheme is enough. The higher Basic Income for the elder would help them with medical costs.

With the lack of a better name, this original idea could be called the Age-Indexed Basic Income. This system’s goal of replacing most welfare schemes, fighting ageism, and including people in it from birth does not mean that it would have to replace every welfare scheme out there. Benefits for people with disabilities and specific other necessary schemes would logically stay.

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