How does basic income respond to the issues facing young people?

The Issues:

  • Young people find themselves under tremendous pressure from an early age to make life choices. Unless their families are well-off financially, they can be discouraged from exploring different career paths. Faced with the stark choice between full-time work and further education, they often don’t have the breathing space they need to think about their future and try things out
  • Financial insecurity encourages young people to focus on how to make money rather than doing work of social benefit, or developing personal fulfillment. Advice from friends, family, educators and the media often reinforces the pressure to use their talents for financial success
  • For the group dubbed ‘Generation Emigration’, the language of industriousness, entrepreneurship and class mobility rings hollow when faced with limited options and opportunities
  • Burdened by debts arising from third-level fees and other costs, and facing limited prospects of satisfying employment, young people can feel insecure, powerless, and a ‘burden’ on their parents and on society at large
  • Many young people therefore see the need for an alternative new paradigm that will ensure stability and sustainability, whilst widening individual freedom.

How basic income can help:

  • Basic income reduces the financial pressure on young people to make hasty decisions about the future. By ensuring unconditional and sufficient income regardless of economic or educational activities, basic income gives young people space and time to make decisions whilst encouraging exploration and reflection
  • Basic income opens up a range of occupational options to young people that may not be feasible without an independent income. These may include creative, artistic and entrepreneurial pursuits as well as voluntary work. Basic income enables young people to think less about making money and more about the social value of their work and its contribution to personal satisfaction.
  • By providing financial security, basic income reduces the pressure to emigrate. It facilitates creative solutions to unemployment and supports people who undertake useful unpaid work. It allows young people to become active in their communities as valued stakeholders and citizens
  • Because basic income is a universal grant that does not differentiate between earners and non-earners, it allows students to avoid debt and provides everyone with a sense of security, empowerment and independence
  • Basic income encourages a new social paradigm based on personal security, sustainable development and wider freedom of choice.

What basic income does not do:

Basic income is not a panacea. On its own, it will not ensure that every young person has a job. While it will reduce the pressure to emigrate, many young people will continue to seek opportunities abroad. Basic income will not make every occupation financially rewarding. On its own, it will not change social attitudes about what counts as a ‘worthwhile’ career.