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Alan Krueger / Why is Universal Basic Income So Controversial? - Lecture
This lecture will discuss a form of unconditional cash transfers often called "universal basic income" (UBI). UBI can be thought of as a form of "negative income tax," often with a zero tax rate. Evidence on the incentive effects of UBI in many contexts will be presented. Baseline results from Give Directly's UBI experiment in Kenya will also be presented. The idea of a negative income tax was supported by a wide range of economists because of its efficiency properties — including James Tobin and Milton Friedman — which makes it surprising that UBI has been so controversial. This lecture will try to resolve this controversy by introducing the notion of "Universal Basic Opportunity."
ALAN KRUEGER is the Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and has done extensive research on income distribution, social insurance, labor market regulation and labor demand. His latest book, “Rockonomics: A Backstage Tour of What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life,” will be published in June. He served as Chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, and joined the Give Directly research team in 2016.
Krueger is also the author of "What Makes A Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism" and "Education Matters: A Selection of Essays on Education, co-author of “Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage," and co-author of "Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies?"
In addition to his service in the Obama administration, Krueger was Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (2009-10), and served as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor (1994-95).
There will be a Wesson Discussion Seminar on Thursday, March 14, at 10 a.m., which is intended as a response to this lecture. Discussion commentators are James Ferguson (Stanford University), Pascaline Dupas (Stanford University) and Stacia Martin-West (University of Tennessee).