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A Plea for the Use of Laboratory Experiments in Basic Income Research
Noguera, Jose A. (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
De Wispelaere, Jurgen (Trinity College Dublin)

Data: 2006
Resum: We agree with the other participants in this debate that an experimental approach makes a significant contribution to our understanding of universal basic income (UBI) schemes, as there is a limit to what we can learn from surveys, simulations or studying existing welfare policies that only marginally resemble a UBI. However, we differ from others advocating the use of experiments in terms of the specific design of a UBI experiment. In particular, we want to urge a note of caution against conducting large-scale social or field experiments (along the lines of the famous negative income tax (NIT) experiments carried out in the US and Canada in the 1970s) advanced in recent years by Loek Groot (2004; 2006), Rafael Pinilla (2006), and many others. We think there are two distinct, if related, reasons why one might take a sceptical attitude towards field experiments in this particular context. First, field experiments are more susceptible to "political manipulation," defined as "external interference with the research process or its outcomes for political reasons," and its advocates are overly optimistic in thinking they can avoid political interference and manipulation of research into a controversial policy proposal such as UBI. Second, a field experiment design entails scientific limitations that impede a genuine understanding of the behavioural effects of UBI in a modern welfare state. While field experiments can teach us a lot about some of the central questions to be considered when implementing a UBI (Widerquist, 2006), they nevertheless face considerable constraints that affect both the scope of the research - the range of questions we can study in a single experiment - and the validity and robustness of the findings. Both concerns suggest we should investigate other possible experimental designs. We suggest that UBI researchers should embrace the methodology and design of rigorously controlled laboratory experiments, advanced in the past decades in cognitive psychology and behavioural economics and increasingly applied to political science, sociology and even social justice. In our view, laboratory experiments would help researchers obtain valuable empirical evidence about UBI that may be hard to attain in social experiments, without rendering research findings susceptible to the sort of adverse political manipulation that dealt a blow to the 1970s NIT experiments (Widerquist, 2005a).
Drets: Tots els drets reservats.
Llengua: Anglès
Document: Article ; recerca ; Versió publicada
Publicat a: Basic income studies, Vol. 1 Núm. 2 (december 2006) , p. 1-8, ISSN 1932-0183

DOI: 10.2202/1932-0183.1044

8 p, 200.9 KB

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Documents de recerca > Documents dels grups de recerca de la UAB > Centres i grups de recerca (producció científica) > Ciències socials i jurídiques > GSADI Sociologia Analítica i Disseny Institucional
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