Louise Haagh, Debate at Cambridge Union (2018): source

I grew up in Denmark, but spent several years of my youth in Latin America and later settled in Britain. As a young person, I was involved with social and labour movements, which shaped my interest in the politics of development.

Growing up in an egalitarian society and liberal political culture has shaped my interest in social equality and its determinants. I also very lucky to have been able to benefit from the great scholarly traditions associated with university life in Britain, as well as the civic and democratic cultures of Britain and other societies in which I have been fortunate to spend extended periods of time, including in Central America and the Caribbean, post-Pinochet Chile, South Korea, and The United States, and Brazil.

I obtained my doctorate in Politics from St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, and I held a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at St. Antony’s from 1998 to 2001.

In 2001 I took up a lectureship at the Politics Department of the University of York, where I am now Professor.


I currently study comparative welfare state development in the United Kingdom and Denmark and on basic income and institutional and welfare transformation around the world. My recent work focuses on drawing out a different account of varieties of capitalism in terms of the role of public sector development, institutional change and democratisation, as exemplified in recent articles for Comparative Studies in International Development,Policy and Politics, Polity, Basic Income Studies, Social Policy and Society.

My areas of specialisation include world poverty, labour studies and social policy, especially comparative labour market institutions, welfare regimes and the political economy of development.

I have held appointments as a visiting fellow at a series of international research institutes and universities, including Cornell University, Yonsei University, and the Brazil Centre at Oxford University. Additionally, I have received research fellowships from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust. These institutions, as well as by the Nuffield Foundation in the Americas and East Asia, have funded a series of research trips.

My research as a visiting fellow has dealt with such themes as the relationship between institutions and human motivation, and interrogating the standard behavioural models that inform mainstream economics and public policy (see, e.g., my articlein World Development).

I have also undertaken work under the auspices of several international organisations and public bodies, including the World Bank, the Council of Europe, the Korean Labor Institute, the Organisation of American States, the International Labour Organisation, and the Canadian Council of Welfare, among others, and have conducted research funded by the British Academy on the relationship between market and welfare reforms in Latin America and the Caribbean.

See the “Publications” and Presentations” pages for details on my books, chapters, articles, and other publications, and my invited talks, debate and roundtable appearance, and conference presentations.


Basic income has been and remains a special area of focus of my work both inside and outside the university.

The Case for Universal Basic Income will be published this year as part of Polity’s new “case for” series, and I am under contract to produce four additional books on the topic.

My work on basic income has featured in a range of public fora and media and led to important speaking engagements. For example, I was a keynote speaker at a public conference on basic income held in the Danish parliament in 2016 (video), served as an expert witness to an inquiry into the subject held by the Work and Pensions Committeeof the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in early 2017 (videoand transcript), argued in favor of basic income at the Robot Stage at the 2017 Web Summit, a leading international tech conference (video), and debated against Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds at a Cambridge Union event in 2018.

My writing on basic income has recently been featured by a number of independent think tanks and media, including Compass, The Royal Society of Arts and Manufacture, and Social Europe, and I have participated in a number of recent public or radio debates on the topic, including the Bristol Festival of Ideas, BBC World Service,P1 of Danish Radio (DR)(twice), FM4 Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, and the RSA podcast series.

Between 2017-2020 I was the elected chair of the registered charity Basic Income Earth Network, where I previously served as co-chair since 2014. I also strive to forge public debate between actors interested in basic income, including political parties and the union movement, as exemplified in apublic debatewith Christian Sølyst (LO< the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions) and Torsten Gejl (MP for the Alternative and Shadow Spokesperson for employment and social affairs).

More information about my engagement with basic income can be found on BIEN's website, and more details on the above and other projects can be found on the “Basic Income” page on this site.


I am a Chair Emeritus of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), a registered charity in the UK with the aim to educate individuals about the idea and policy of basic income and to foster informed debate about this topic around the world. In addition, I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), a joint editor-in-chief of the academic journal Basic Income Studies, and a Trustee and later Patron of the Citizens’ Basic Income Trust(a registered charity in the UK).

I have also been engaged in a number of international research networks related to my research on development, the welfare state, and basic income, with a focus on the distributive and institutional aspects of economic instability in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

In the context of my work on economic security, I have further acted as expert for a range of international organisations and public bodies.

Between 2017 and 2021 I worked as an expert for the World Health Organisation, and took part in high-level strategy meetings at WHO  UN City Copenhagen over a two-year period, and at headquarters Geneva in connection with the formation of the Department of Social Determinants of Health which was a culmination of the work on Heathy Equity in which I was a leading member with a particular focus on the role of economic security regimes – hereunder universal basic income (see Professional Engagements)

Before that, between 2010 and 2013, I acted as an expert advisor to a project of the Council of Europe, financed by the European Commission, to consider innovative policies to combat poverty in Europe. The result of this work was published in Living in Dignity in the Twenty-First Century. I spoke a plenary session at the Council of Europe’s presentation of the report at its headquarters in Strasbourg (video).

From 2010 and 2011, I participated in a task force set down by Carole Pateman, then President-Elect of the American Political Science Association, leading to the publication of the report Democratic Imperatives: Innovations in Rights, Participation, and Economic Citizenship.

I have also been engaged in a research network on Perspectives on Work in Europe coordinated by the Institute of Ethics and Poverty Research at the University of Salzburg.

In 2010, I formed part of a small delegation to discuss the feasibility of implementing Brazil’s law on basic income with President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as a prelude to the biennial international Basic Income Earth Network Congress held that year in São Paulo.

Other memberships, partnerships, and consultancies are described under Talks, Basic Income and the Professionals Engagement pages.


In 2014 my contribution as a teacher at York was celebrated by my student nomination as one of the 86 present and former staff nominated as Faces of Fifty, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the university’s founding.

“The quality of her teaching in both lectures and seminars is absolutely outstanding. I was lucky enough to have her as my lecturer and tutor,” a student said in the nomination.

I am presently interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • Basic Income
  • Welfare States and Social Justice
  • Comparative Development and Institutional Change - Institutional and Comparative Systems Theory
  • Comparative Labour Studies
  • Development and Democratisation
  • Theories and Policies of Development Governance
  • Political Economy of Institutions and Development
  • Latin American Politics and Political Economy
  • Theories and Policies related to Poverty
  • Politics of Labour Market Reform
  • The Ethics and Political Economy of Work and Development

Information about present and past advisees can be found on the Curriculum Vitae page