A merely national ‘universal’ basic income and global justice

Martin Sticker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


I argue that a UBI implemented in some but not all countries must be accompanied by a compensation scheme for those who do not receive a UBI but who contribute to the UBI by effectively subsidizing the recipients of a merely national UBI. This subsidy gives rise to an especially pressing version of the free-rider or Malibu-Surfer problem, since non-recipient contributors do not have the option to quit their jobs and live off a UBI. They should thus receive compensation in analogy to a compensation scheme proposed for the victims of Alaska’s oil industry, which funds Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend. I argue that merely national UBI recipients have particularly strong moral reasons to compensate non-recipient contributors to the UBI they enjoy. I then discuss to what extent the justice problem I raise for a merely national UBI also applies to other policies and schemes such as national welfare-state provisions. Finally, I argue that a merely national UBI is not sufficiently justified by its instrumental significance for a transition to a global UBI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-176
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Political Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date15 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work on this article was supported by the University of Bristol and by an Ethics–Economics, Law and Politics Guest Chair at the Ruhr‐University Bochum, financed by the German Academic Exchange Service.


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