Understanding Covid-19 emergency social security measures as a from of basic income: Lessons from Australia

Elise Klein, Kay Cook, Susan Maury, Kelly Bowey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article examines the changes in social security measures introduced by the Australian government during the first wave of Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020. These measures were basic income-like in that they became both more unconditional and adequate for a reasonable standard of living. This was achieved through a significant supplementary payment, suspension of mutual obligation requirements, and the relaxation of eligibility criteria on a range of unemployment-related payments. Through drawing on the results of an online survey, we examine the impacts of these measures and find that they significantly helped to alleviate poverty and improve wellbeing. These gains were not insignificant for the individuals involved, and offer empirical insights into studies of basic income. While seeing the Australian government embrace more generous and basic income-like measures, we also note that during Covid-19 gendered and class inequalities increased. This reminds us that basic income is never a silver bullet and, alongside implementing basic income payments, there also needs to be a concerted effort to restructure economic relations more generally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)879-893
    JournalJournal of Sociology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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