Conference of Mme Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen (Universität Bern). Since 2014, Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen is associate professor for comparative politics at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Bern. Her main research interests concern comparative public policy (in particular welfare state, energy and education policy), inequality, direct democracy as well as political participation and attitudes. She is thereby particularly interested in interlinkages between these different perspectives.
A fundamental reform of the welfare state that has recently gained in attention is a basic income (BI) scheme. However, a BI scheme can be designed and framed very differently, e.g., as a generous welfare state scheme, which heavily builds on decommodification and redistribution, or, as an austerity measure whereby a low BI replaces all (more generous) existent social benefits. This paper investigates what citizens think about the idea of a BI, in how far citizens’ perceptions are depend on the exact design of such a scheme and the context in which this policy is embedded. Empirically, we rely on conjoint experiments conducted in Finland and Switzerland – two countries, where the introduction of a basic income scheme has recently been discussed most intensely. The findings reveal that in both countries – despite contrasting framing of current BI proposals – citizens tend to favor more generous schemes that however are restrictive regarding the access of non-nationals. Moreover, Swiss people exhibit a lower average level of support for a BI than Fins. Conversely, support for BI proposals is more strongly contingent on their design in the Swiss case. The same applies to individual characteristics, which are more influential to explain BI support in Switzerland than in Finland.