The new scheme follows several other studies around the world with universal basic income. With the new proposal, the participants will be given one million won (a local currency valued at $883) per year. The difference between this proposal and other basic income schemes being tried globally is that the money will come in the form of a special currency, with the aim that the money will be used for exchanging for goods and services with small local businesses.
A universal basic income most often refers to the government issue of a periodic cash payment delivered to a section of society, on an individual basis, and without a means test or a work requirement. In many cases it has been used as an alternative to welfare payments (although it is given to those who claim welfare and those who do not, and independent of an individual’s financial wealth).
Proponents of universal basic income argue that it provides opportunity and the ability for participants to improve themselves under circumstances when ordinarily those chances would not arise. Opponents of such ideas state that universal basic income reduces the incentive to work or dissociates people from work. Digital Journal’s Paul Wallis has discussed these and other issues in a detailed article on the philosophy of basic income.
For the new experiment in South Korea, this will be confined to the Gyeonggi province as Inverse reports. The use of a local currency, as a ‘youth dividend’, is intended to help local businesses to thrive, as well as providing an opportunity to aid young people as they consider the next stage in life.
According to Hyosang Ahn, executive director of the Basic Income Korean Network: “Given that the local currency can be only be used in small businesses of the province, it could stimulate the local economy and provide the base for a broader coalition in support of the basic income program, and basic income in general.”
He adds, with reference to the basic income idea more generally: “Basic income can be regarded as part of a broader reimagining of society, and local currencies are a way to reconstruct social economies and could be part of that reimagining.”
Success or failure of the project, which begin on April 29, 2019, will form part of an assessment by the Gyeonggi Research Institute.