Does informing citizens about the non-meritocratic nature of inequality bolster support for a universal basic income? Evidence from a population-based survey experiment

Thijs Lindner*, Jonathan Mijs, Willem de Koster, Jeroen van der Waal

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Despite citizens’ precarization and policymakers’ enthusiasm for a universal basic income (UBI), this alternative to targeted welfare has, curiously, received limited popular support. We theorize that this is due to people overestimating society’s meritocratic nature. Accordingly, we field a randomized survey experiment with a representative sample of the Dutch population (n = 1,630) to investigate the impact of information provision about the non-meritocratic nature of wealth and ethnic inequality on support for a UBI. Informed by extant research indicating that citizens respond differently to the same information because of material circumstances or different worldviews, we further estimate conditional average treatment effects to explore moderation by (1) income, (2) economic egalitarianism, (3) welfare chauvinism and (4) institutional trust. We find that support for a UBI is higher among individuals with lower incomes and those who are more egalitarian and less welfare chauvinistic. Nonetheless, while exposure to our factual treatment makes participants more concerned about inequality and supportive of economic redistribution in general, it neither directly nor conditionally affects their support for a UBI. Our findings suggest that a UBI may be deemed too radical an approach to addressing inequality. We discuss theoretical and policy implications and provide suggestions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Societies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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  • ESSB PA

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