Inside Story

Should governments provide a minimum wage for everyone?

Swiss voters have rejected the idea of a basic income for everyone, but what will happen if other countries approve it?

Switzerland has become the first country in the world to hold a referendum on whether to give out state handouts to all citizens.

But voters said “No” – by an overwhelming majority.

Supporters argued that many are jobless because they are increasingly being made redundant by the technological takeover in the workplace.

Critics said government leaders did not properly explain how taxpayers will fund the costly policy.

As for the politicians, no parliamentary party has come out in favour.

Recent research found that 68 percent of people across all 28 EU member states would vote for an unconditional basic income.

Italians and Spaniards liked the idea the most.

With high unemployment an increasing concern, four out of five Finns are in favour of a basic income. Finland will roll out a pilot scheme next year.

The Netherlands also has a pilot project in the pipeline.

Other European cities with generous welfare systems seem keen to try.

The biggest objection to the idea is the fear that people will be encouraged to stop working.

However, the poll found that only 4 percent would quit their jobs.

So, what will the economic and social impact be if other countries say “yes”?

Presenter: Martine Dennis


Enno Schmidt, Co-initiator of the Basic Income Switzerland campaign

Nick Pearce, Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research at the University of Bath

Francine Mestrum, Coordinator for Global Social Justice