Stress, domination and basic income: considering a citizens’ entitlement response to a public health crisis

Matthew Thomas Johnson, Elliott Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In 2015/16, stress was found psychologically to be responsible for 37% of work-related illnesses and 45% of working days lost due to illness in Great Britain. Stress has also been linked to long-term chronic health conditions – including heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and depression – responsible for 70% of NHS England spend, 50% of GP appointments, 64% of outpatient appointments and 70% of inpatient bed days. It is apparent that medical responses to stress-related illness contribute to the NHS funding crisis without resolving underlying causes. It is necessary to address the social bases of this public health issue. We argue that one of the primary causes of stress stems from a basic assumption of modern economics: that hierarchies are essential to organizational success. We argue that the combination of hierarchy and possibility of destitution inflicts domination on individuals. We then consider the potential contribution of Universal Basic Income (UBI) to dealing causally with this public health problem. This marks a new development in both the public health and UBI literatures. We conclude that future trials and studies of UBI ought to measure physiological effects on stress as part of an holistic evaluation of the policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-271
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Theory and Health
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


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