Basic Income: The Potential for Gendered Empowerment?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Basic Income: The Potential for Gendered Empowerment?

  • Alison Koslowski School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Ann-Zofie Duvander Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Sweden

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Abstract:  Basic income is likely to gain momentum as the next social welfare trend to sweep over the world with ideas of how to improve the fairness and efficiency of distributing money. Other earlier movements with similar ambitions to transform societies, ranging across the political spectrum from socialism to neo-liberalism, have led to very different consequences for strata of citizens, but have in common that they have de-prioritised gender equality in favour of other interests. Advocates of basic income suggest that in addition to pragmatic gains, such as a more efficient state administration, primarily a basic income will empower citizens, leading to the potential for greater human flourishing. Our question is whether this empowerment will be gendered and if so, how? So far, the basic income debate addresses gender only in so far as it would raise the income of the poorest, of whom a larger proportion are women. However, it is less clear how it might contribute to a transformation of gendered behaviour, making possible divergent shapes of life where binary and set notions of gender are not a restriction. We discuss the idea of basic income from a perspective of gender equality in the Swedish context.

Keywords:  basic income; empowerment; feminism; gender equality; parental leave; Sweden; universal worker model

Published:   22 November 2018

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© Alison Koslowski, Ann-Zofie Duvander. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.