The BABEL project is divided into five distinct work packages (WPs). Each of them tackles crucial questions to assess the potential of a BI and to inform federal policy strategies. The first five of these WPs focus on data collection and research activities, while the sixth is devoted to coordination, dissemination and valorisation of the project results.
In WP1, the consortium partners will, together with the follow-up committee, identify BI scenarios to be tested empirically in WP2 and WP4, and to be discussed with the stakeholders in WP5. The scenarios will be chosen based on variation in four dimensions: entitlement, benefit amount, scope with regard to existing social benefits, and benefit design (i.e., negative income tax or cash transfer; taxable or non-taxable). The options for these four dimensions will be based on a systematic literature review of the design of various BI proposals such as working tax credits, and negative income taxes, including the different ways of funding and taxation.
WP2 will draw on the tax-benefit microsimulation tool EUROMOD, we estimate first-order effects of the BI varieties selected in WP1. Initially, these different BI scenarios will be programmed into the EUROMOD framework. We then evaluate the effects of an ‘overnight’ introduction of these different policy proposals on poverty, inequality, work incentives, and we estimate the fiscal effects of the policy change. Results will be broken down by education level, age, labor market status and household composition
In WP3, Win for Life (W4L) lottery data will be exploited as a natural experiment to test the effect of receiving a lifelong, unconditional, monthly lottery income akin to BI on the labor supply of recipients. In collaboration with the National Lottery, we will match administrative data on winners and two control groups to ask three questions: (1) to what extent does receiving a W4L monthly annuity affect employment at the extensive and intensive margins? (2) to what extent does receiving a W4L monthly annuity encourage lifelong learning? and (3) to what extent does receiving a W4L monthly annuity foster entrepreneurship? We will answer these questions taking an individual (what happens to the recipients?) as well as a household perspective (do other adult members in the household change their employment behavior?).
WP4 aims to examine the public support and social legitimacy of different BI scenarios identified in WP1 and empirically tested in WP2. To this purpose, we draw on recent data from the European Social Survey (ESS) and we will conduct a unique vignette experiment among a representative sample of the Belgian population. Contrary to existing ESS data, the vignette study allows us to assess attitudes towards different BI proposals and under which conditions these various proposals find popular support. Additionally, we will conduct the vignette experiment among a sample of trade unions to assess whether there are differences in BI support between trade union officials and simple members.
In WP5, we investigate the institutional conditions for implementing (a variety of) BI schemes in the Belgian context. In a first step, we gauge the support of stakeholders and gatekeepers of the Belgian welfare state including trade unions, employers’ organisations, and political parties. Additionally, we will compile the Basic Income in Belgium Information System (BABELIS) database. This database will contain information on benefits in Belgium and in how far they deviate from main BI features: conditionality, universality, individualisation, financing, and administration. Finally, the BABELIS database will also be the basis for careful exploration of a gradual implementing of feasible and sustainable BI scenarios (derived from WP2 and WP4). This will include the implementation of a BI for particular social categories such as children, pensioners, or the move to individual (i.e. not household-based) social assistance payments. This exploratory study will pay attention to knock-on effects with other benefit schemes and entitlements, and it will take account of the multilevel structure of the Belgian welfare state with regional, local and federal competencies in these domains.