As jobs disappear and wages flat-line, paid work is an increasingly fragile and unattainable basis for dignified life. This predicament, deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic, is sparking urgent debates about alternatives such as a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Highly topical and distinctive in its approach, In the Balance: The Case for a Universal Basic Income in South Africa and Beyond is the most grounded and up-to-date examination yet of the need and prospects for a UBI in a global South setting such as South Africa.
Hein Marais casts the debate about a UBI in the wider context of the dispossessing pressures of capitalism and the onrushing turmoil of global warming, pandemics and social upheaval. Marais surveys the meaning, history and appeal of a UBI before even-handedly weighing the case for and against such an intervention.
The book explores the vexing questions a UBI raises about the relationship of paid work to social rights, about prevailing notions of citizens’ entitlement and dependency, and the role of the state in contemporary capitalism. Along with cost estimates for different versions of a basic income in South Africa, it discusses financing options and lays out the social, economic and political implications. This incisive new book advances both our theoretical and practical understanding of the prospects for a UBI.