Public Opinion Toward Univerisal Basic Income By John Zogby
Universal Basic Income “is a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, independent of any other income.”
John Zogby Strategies asked a question about a variation of Universal Basic Income to determine whether or not this hotly debated issue has any traction on American soil.
We asked, “How likely are you to support the idea of a Universal Basic Income for all Americans who are currently at or below the poverty line?” The following analysis combines choices Very Likely and Somewhat Likely into “in favor of” and Not Likely At All and Somewhat Unlikely into “not in favor of.”
Overall, this is a close one with 40% in favor of, 35% not in favor of, leaving exactly one-quarter not sure.
Regarding income, UBI is most popular, not surprisingly, with those who earn less than $35K annually. A slight majority are in favor (51%), leaving 23%, not in favor of and 26% not sure.
While considerably lower, still, one-third (33%) of $75K+ income earners are in favor of the idea whereas 46% are not. The middle-income bracket ($35K-$75K) are pretty evenly split with 37% lending support, 35% not in favor of, and 28% not sure.
Younger Millennials (18-24 years of age) are the least likely to support with only 27% in favor. The highest support for this variation of a Universal Basic Income (51%) comes from older millennials (25-34 years of age). Understandable since older millennials launched their careers amidst the Great Recession. Those aged 35-54 (mostly Gen X) sustain fairly high support coming in at 43%, while support drops with the two oldest cohorts, those aged 55-69 and 70+, both at 34%.
Looking at party, almost three in five (59%) Democrats are in favor compared to about one in five (19%) Republicans, and nearly four in ten (38%) from those who identified as “Other” party.
As long as the trend of wealth concentration in fewer hands continues, support for far-reaching measures such as Universal Basic Income has real potential to gain further steam; perhaps even the purest form of it calling for supplementary income for all citizens regardless of income.
While supporters of UBI believe it can help alleviate poverty by creating a guaranteed safety net, critics point to past and current examples of welfare programs, arguing it tends to create generational dependency and increased poverty.
In the final analysis, Universal Basic Income remains up in the air due to an almost even split. More importantly, a quarter of the public is not sure, either because of a lack knowledge of what it is or its overall effectiveness.
John Zogby (@TheJohnZogby) is the founder of the Zogby Poll and Zogby companies, including John Zogby Strategies, and author of We Are Many We Are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in the 21st Century America.