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Exit, Voice, and Loyalty in the Family. The Impact of Basic Income on Families and Gender

Tue, August 11, 12:30 to 2:10pm, Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Floor: 4th Floor, Union Square 1

Abstract

This paper investigates how a basic income could transform family and gender relations. We draw on Hirschman’s exit, voice, and loyalty framework to argue that a basic income can offer a structural foundation for a radical shift towards more equitable family relations. This is because a basic income can reduce women’s structural vulnerability to economic dependency that disproportionately strips them of exit and voice and can support couples through economic uncertainty. We build our case on novel data from an understudied social experiment from the late 1970s called the Manitoba Basic Income Experiment, or Mincome. Using individual fixed-effects models, we analyze three family outcomes that correspond to Hirschman’s concepts: separation, bargaining power, and marital conflict. We find that during Mincome unhappy couples became more likely to consider separation, but that separation overall did not increase. We also find that Mincome reduced marital conflict associated with financial stressors and that some measures of wives’ bargaining power increased. Taken together, our results speak in favor of the view that a basic income has the potential to foster more equitable family lives.

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