New Zealand, universal basic income, social welfare, equity


New Zealand is a small liberal capitalist country with a history of egalitarian values and political reform—including the early introduction of universal welfare benefits—and with an uncomplicated relatively flat income tax structure. As such, it has sometimes been seen as a "social laboratory," a theme of writing about New Zealand and of New Zealand social historians. It therefore has all of the elements in place that could make New Zealand a candidate to become a world leader in integrating income tax and social welfare regimes into a form of universal basic income. Nevertheless, through a combination of intellectual inertia, media cynicism, and the requisite elements not all coming together at the same time, the outlook for an open and healthy discussion around public property rights and unconditional benefits remains constrained. Despite this unpromising intellectual environment, New Zealand may yet stumble upon such reform as a political compromise, as it might have done in 1988.

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