Another way to model complexity in economics: game it!

I heard that Marx struggled at the end of his life to learn enough mathematics to demonstrate his insights as calculations. He didn’t make it. But it is understandable. Society runs on expert calculation. We see them every day about the effects of interest rates and output and unemployment, estimates of share prices etc. The problem is, we are dealing with complexity and treating it like a simple case of “doing the maths” when mathematics is poorly equipped to do that.

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Universal Basic Income Game in beta release!

UBI means Universal Basic Income and guarantees people who are not in work a basic income level. About UBI people have a lot of different opinions – some say it frees up people and their entrepreneur spirit – others say it makes people lazy. How are we going to pay for it? is another objection.

We designed and built this downloadable single player/small group version so you could try out ideas around UBI for yourself.

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UBI simulation game ready to roll!

Starting in August, 2019, we are offering a one-day deep immersion experience of Universal Basic Income (UBI). The day revolves around a business-game like simulation featuring an imaginary country, Lilliput, that has decided by referendum to introduce UBI.

New! Now available to run online. Contact us for more details.

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The Logic of the UBI Simulation

In this article we are going to demonstrate how the UBI works “under the hood” by looking at the underlying game logic.

The game makes some vast simplifications of how a national economy works – it is after all designed to be a learning experience rather than a mirror of how the world actually works.

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UBI Simulation Game

Some results from alpha testing of the Universal Basic Income simulation game

Together with the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation I am developing a Universal basic Income “Business Game“. The idea is to take a simplified, fictive country and play around with various aspects of UBI to learn by doing.

We are into the first alpha testing phase and have produced an overview dashboard to look into what sort of figure we are interested in following as the game progresses

Conditions: raise VAT, lower taxes on wages, start raising UBI, reduction in workforce.

The above run was a force run to see how raising taxes and lowering numbers in work looks in the system. As you see the state gets less to spend on services as income declines. Maybe not so interesting. The next run looks at raising UBI from under minimum standard and just raising VAT.

Conditions: raise UBI from under minimum, raise VAT.

The second run added spending power of UBI takers to the dashboard. If you raise VAT you lower spending power. Interestingly – in the simplified model at least – you get MORE state income and the UBI takers do not get lowered VAT. This gives us a hint that it might be possible to raise UBI and Universal Basic Services, although the UBI eats away at the money available for social costs.

Modelling like this raises many detailed questions and it is a difficult task to make the game engine simple enough to handle in a game situation ( so that you learn basic principles) and complex enough to give a feeling of “real life” (so it feels authentic enough).

Let me know in the comments if there is any logic I am missing or any metric you want to see on the dashboard.

Click here for more articles on the UBI simulation