In describing the “Need for Security,” the 1935 Committee on Economic Security wrote that “the one almost all-embracing measure of security is an assured income. A program of economic security, as we vision it, must have as its primary aim the assurance of an adequate income to each human being in childhood, youth, middle age, or old age—in sickness or in health.” Although almost eighty-five years have passed since the Committee’s report, its “primary aim” remains unfulfilled.
This concept paper examines the possibility of providing a base level of income to certain subsets of, and perhaps to all, U.S. citizens as a means to increasing their economic security. The authors begin by highlighting the extent of contemporary financial insecurity and continue with a discussion on how an assured income program might complement existing social insurance and social assistance programs. This is followed by an examination of past and present programs that share goals with the assured income concept described, and an exploration of how these programs might provide a basis for the Social Security Administration’s administering an assured income benefit.
Support for this concept paper was provided by the Economic Security Project.