Conference Theme
Basic Income and the New Universalism: Rethinking the Welfare State in the 21st Century

In the 20th century, the welfare states were successful in reducing poverty, building trust between different socio-economic groups and providing more equal opportunities for all. Today, welfare state structures reflect the societies of the past rather than those of the future. Welfare state institutions have not been able to regenerate in line with changed labour market conditions and lifestyles, and are tightly intertwined with unsustainable economic structures at local and global levels. The basic income proposal offers a way out of the current conundrum with a prospect of rethinking and reinvigorating the ambitions of the welfare state.

Societal reforms such as a basic income require social vision and political will, but also a sober evaluation of the expected effects and challenges to be overcome. Recent years have seen an exponential increase in media and policy attention around the basic income idea, followed by concrete initiatives to study basic income design and implementation across the world.

The 2018 BIEN Congress plans to build on this growing interest in basic income by inviting activists, stakeholders, policymakers, students and researchers to discuss the promises of basic income against the background of the need for a “new universalism”.

The congress will focus on three main streams.

1) Knowledge and evidence: what do we know about how basic income really works, and how do we advance our understanding of the basic income model?

2) Policy design and implementation: how does basic income interact with existing (welfare state) policies and institutions, and which social and policy changes are needed to make basic income work in practice?

3) Politics: what are the challenges for pushing basic income onto the policy agenda. and how can these be overcome?

These three streams encompass a large variety of specific topics to be covered in presentations and discussions. Examples include: How does an unconditional basic income change the nature and form of current welfare state institutions and regimes? How will a well-functioning basic income scheme interact with existing policies? What are the most promising avenues to institute a basic income? What can we learn from planned and ongoing pilot schemes about basic income? How can universalism be extended to larger regional and global areas, and what challenges does this pose for the basic income idea?

Throughout the congress, we aim to accommodate a wide range of perspectives and approaches and we will employ different presentation formats to further genuine debate and discussion. As the basic income idea is gaining popularity in Finland and elsewhere, we expect strong contributions from academic researchers, citizen activists, policy experts and decision-makers as well as significant public attention and media interest in our event.


Organising committee

The 2018 BIEN Congress taking place at the University of Tampere is a world-wide interdisciplinary conference organised under the auspices of the Basic Income Earth Network. The 2018 BIEN Congress is organised by the Finnish BIEN Network (Suomen Perustuloverkosto) and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tampere, in consultation with the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).

The members of the local organizing committee are:

Jan Otto Andersson
Jurgen De Wispelaere
Pekka Elonheimo
Antti Halmetoja
Jouko Hemmi
Markku Ikkala
Veera Jokipalo
Anja-Riitta Ketokoski
Pertti Koistinen (chair)
Arto Laitinen
Otto Lehto
Johanna Perkiö


supporting organisations





Keva Pension Agency



Service Union United PAM


The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra


The Social Insurance Institution of Finland




Green European Foundation / Think tank visio