A sweeping intellectual history of the welfare state’s
The idea of a
government paying its citizens to keep them out of poverty—now
known as basic income—is hardly new. Often dated as far back as
ancient Rome, basic income’s modern conception truly emerged in the
late nineteenth century. Yet as one of today’s most controversial
proposals, it draws supporters from across the political spectrum.
In this eye-opening
work, Anton Jäger and Daniel Zamora Vargas trace basic income from
its rise in American and British policy debates following periods of
economic tumult to its modern relationship with technopopulist
figures in Silicon Valley. They chronicle how the idea first arose in
the United States and Europe as a market-friendly alternative to the
postwar welfare state and how interest in the policy has grown in the
wake of the 2008 credit crisis and COVID-19 crash.
comprehensive history, Welfare for Markets tells the story of
how a fringe idea conceived in economics seminars went global,
revealing the most significant shift in political culture since the
end of the Cold War.