Universal Basic Income in the Spanish construction sector: Engaging businesses in a public-policy debate
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is receiving increasing attention as a policy alternative, both from academia and the general public, because its implementation would open the window for a systemic questioning of our current “social contract”. However, the body of evidence for or against UBI is still insufficiently developed, especially when concerning changes at the system level – a scale at which it has never been implemented anywhere in the world. At this scale, labour market dynamics and the behaviour of different economic agents, such as businesses, take on particular relevance.Our main research objective is to investigate shared beliefs and opinions among business managers about UBI, about its impact at the system level, and, more specifically on labour market supply and demand. In order to achieve this objective, we conducted a focus group session involving managers from the construction sector in Spain, a country whose demographics, unemployment rate, productivity and public expenditure make this policy plausible.The target group showed little understanding of UBI, as well as other welfare policies, and demonstrated a dominant position against such a proposal. Our main findings show that most companies “live day-to-day” and do not undertake a structured analysis of such radical horizons but rather concentrate on incremental adaptations, even if they are worried about the need to increase productivity as a condition for survival – of both companies and the welfare system. We suggest that, in order to address this stakeholder group, communication around UBI should stress its potential to simplify bureaucracy and lead to significant savings. The results of this study can be used to inform policy design processes around UBI.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Víctor Gómez-Frías, Teresa Sánchez-Chaparro, Daniel Maeso-Álvarez, Jesús Salgado-Criado
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