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People react as they hold placards during a protest organised by India's main opposition Congress party against demonetization, in Mumbai, India, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade - RTSW12Q
Future Development

Future Development Reads: Universal basic income, the role of economists in society, and India’s demonetization

Here are Future Development’s top reads of the week, which cover the ongoing debate around universal basic income, economists’ role in society, and demonetization policies in India.

Universal basic income

  1. In keeping with our forecast that universal basic income (UBI) will increasingly become a reality in 2017, India’s most conflict-ridden state, Jammu and Kashmir, introduced a basic income for all its residents living below the poverty line.
  2. Charities are now using the alternative of giving cash as a way of benchmarking their effectiveness.
  3. For the latest news on UBI, follow Scott Santens.
  4. For a humorous take, check out The Onion’s “pros and cons of UBI.”

Whither Economists?

  1. The 2017 American Economic Association meetings prompted several pieces about economists and their role in society, especially given some skepticism about the value of experts in general and economic experts in particular.
  2. Esther Duflo’s Richard Ely Lecture, “Economists as Plumbers,” is a refreshing and thought-provoking perspective.
  3. On the debate about macroeconomics (triggered by, among other things, Paul Romer’s paper), Olivier Blanchard issued his third piece on dynamic stochastic general-equilibrium models where he makes the sensible but often overlooked point that a single model cannot be both theoretically pure and empirically relevant.

India Demonetization

  1. India’s demonetization policy continues to generate a lively debate. John Lanchester’s article in The New York Times, “Should we trash cash?” is a clear account of the issues.
  2. While the economics of demonetization continues to be debated, Ashoka Mody and Michael Walton raise concerns about the political implications of the decision, which they describe as “authoritarian populism,” and which could have corrosive effects on India’s democracy.

The Future Development blog informs and stimulates debate on key sustainable development issues within and across all countries.

Now hosted by the Center for Sustainable Development, this blog was originally launched in September 2013 by the World Bank and the Brookings Institution in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January 2015 at In the ensuing years, the blog’s scope evolved in parallel with ongoing international policy debates and was formally updated in November 2022 to focus on broader challenges of sustainable development around the world.

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