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Universal Basic Income

Challenges and implications

23 November at 16:30


A Universal Basic Income is a small amount of money paid unconditionally to each member of society on a regular basis. The underlying purpose is to provide basic economic security to all.

But what constitutes basic security?

Intuitively it means that people can rely on enough nutritious food, a decent place to live, the opportunity to learn and access to medical aid and equal participation in society.

In South Africa, academic reflections and concrete policy proposals for a basic income are making the headlines, particularly following the temporary introduction of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, a COVID-19-related emergency measure for persons unable to meet their most basic needs.

As the discussion around basic income gains momentum, a new research project run by the Italian UCT researcher Giorgia Nicolò aims to shed light on this public policy measure and enrich the debate even further.

This talk will retrace how and why the idea originated more than 20 years ago, what version of basic income South Africa is considering for itself today and what are its main implications.


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Dr Giorgia Nicolò

Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cape Town

Giorgia Nicolò is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cape Town, Department of Sociology. Her research is about understanding public opinion regarding the introduction of Basic Income in South Africa. Her interest in social policies is rooted in more than fifteen years of working experience within the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development. She has worked extensively in government policy-making and evaluation processes in different countries mostly in Africa but also Asia and Latin America on issues, among others, of poverty and inequality. Her purpose in life is to contribute to a happier and more just society.