Seeking better solutions to economic insecurity
July 8, 2019
King’s congratulates Dr. Thomas Malleson, Assistant Professor of Social Justice and Peace Studies, on receiving an Insight Development Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The grant, in the amount of $55,234, is for Dr. Malleson’s project entitled “The Future of Economic Security: Basic Income, Job Guarantees, or Public Services.”
At a time when many scholars believe that we are in an age of economic insecurity, Dr. Malleson’s research project will examine the possibilities of establishing genuine economic security for all.
“I have long been interested in issues of poverty and economic insecurity. Many people in our society lack a stable, secure, economic foundation for their lives. You might have a job this year but be left with nothing next year,” says Dr. Malleson.
Unfortunately, Dr. Malleson explains, typical proposals for establishing economic security tend to involve minor tweaks to the current system, such as small increases to welfare rates or minimum wages. His research project, however, seeks to explore more ambitious possibilities by investigating what Dr. Malleson says are “the three most powerful and potentially profound mechanisms for guaranteeing security for all: Basic Income, Job Guarantees, and Robust Public Services.”
“I want to investigate some bolder, more ambitious alternatives such as guaranteeing people a job (a “job guarantee”) or guaranteeing everyone a modest income (a “basic income”). All of these systems have strengths but they also all have weaknesses. Which approach is best? That’s what I want to investigate,” says Dr. Malleson.
The next step in the project will be to create a fair comparison for empirical as well as normative evaluation, in order to analyze how best to spend resources on public services, a job guarantee or a basic income. Dr. Malleson wants to establish an accurate assessment of how the numbers break down.
“How much would it actually cost to enhance public services? How many jobs could be guaranteed? How far would a basic income go at that amount? And which institutional arrangement gives us the most normative bang for the buck? Those are the questions that I am currently addressing,” explains Dr. Malleson, noting that he is currently researching figures available from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Ontario Government budget pages as well as normative literature on basic income and job guarantees.
Dr. Malleson says that every class he teaches addresses the issues of economic insecurity in some fashion. He points to his third-year class, SJPS 3380 F/G Justice and Alternative Economic Systems, which investigates a variety of different models, including basic income, for rearranging the economy in order to enhance social justice and reduce insecurity.
SSHRC Insight Development Grants support research in its initial stages. The grants enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas. Funding is provided for short-term research development projects, of up to two years, proposed by individuals or teams.
For more information on Social Justice and Peace Studies, please visit https://www.kings.uwo.ca/academics/social-justice-and-peace-studies/.