A COUNTRY that gives every citizen enough cash to live on whether she needs it or not: It’s got to be either a fool’s paradise or a profligate Northern European nation. And lo, in November, the Finnish government proposed paying every adult 800 euros or about $870 a month. Fits of this seemingly irrational generosity, called a universal basic income or U.B.I., are becoming surprisingly common. The Swiss will vote in a referendum on basic income this year. The Dutch city of Utrecht will soon start a basic-income pilot program. Canada’s ruling Liberal Party recently adopted a resolution calling for a similar experiment.
Still, it couldn’t happen here. Or could it? Over the past few years, a case for the U.B.I. has emerged that could make it appealing not just to the poor, who don’t vote in great numbers, but to women, who do.