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What is Unconditional Basic Income in One Word?

Scott Santens
Scott Santens
2 min read

I've been in a couple rooms of around 50 people or so where we were asked to describe in one word, why we believe unconditional basic income is important, and each time I was impressed with the great variety of responses, but also how certain responses were expressed again and again. Inspired by those responses, I posed the same question on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit recently to see just how many responses to that question I could get, to get a much wider look at what people see in UBI, and which ways of looking at UBI are most universally important to people.

Limiting yourself to just one word, which word would you use to best describe why you support the idea of unconditional basic income? Which word in your opinion best justifies its importance?

Examples: potential, freedom, dignity, trust, justice, rights, solidarity, efficiency…January 23, 2019

I created a spreadsheet for all the responses and counted "likes" as votes, so for example if one word was expressed three times, it would have a weight of three, and if another word was expressed once, but was liked twice, that too would have a weight of three. The result was almost 1,000 responses from over 500 people. The top 20 responses and their frequency of response are as follows:

  1. Freedom - 107
  2. Dignity - 53
  3. Security - 44
  4. Equality - 36
  5. Human - 35
  6. Fairness - 31
  7. Sustainability - 27
  8. Stability - 26
  9. Opportunity - 25 | Justice -25
  10. Evolution - 23
  11. Empowerment - 22
  12. Safety - 21
  13. Happiness - 18 | Equity - 18
  14. Civility - 17
  15. Automation - 15
  16. Progress - 14 | Compassion - 14
  17. Survival - 13
  18. Efficiency - 12 | Solidarity - 12
  19. Hope - 10 | Decency - 10 | Society - 10 | Startrek - 10 | Balance - 10
  20. Peace - 8 | Hunger - 8 | Necessity - 8 | Capitalism - 8 | Harmony

I then imported all the responses into Word Art to create a word cloud to better visualize the data. Here is the result:

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Here's a link to download an ultra-high resolution (7406 x 4320) version for whatever purposes you like.

For those interested, I've also made it available on some shirts and mugs on my Spreadshirt shop.

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Everyone is welcome to use this data for your own research, or to create your own visualizations, or to build off it to create an even larger database.

If it's one word that describes unconditional basic income to the largest percentage of people, it's freedom.

May that and all the rest of the ways of describing UBI inspire you as much as it inspires me.

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Scott Santens Twitter

Unconditional/Universal Basic Income (UBI) advocate with a crowdfunded basic income; Founder and President of ITSA Foundation, Author of Let There Be Money; Editor of