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GENEVA — Swiss voters on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to guarantee an income to Switzerland’s residents, whether or not they are employed, an idea that has also been raised in other countries amid an intensifying debate over wealth disparities and dwindling employment opportunities.About 77 percent of voters rejected a plan to give a basic monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs, or about ,560, to each adult, and 625 francs for each child under 18, regardless of employment status, to fight poverty and social inequality and guarantee a “dignified” life to everyone.

It has been promoted by some Democrats who are demanding more social justice, but it also has some right-wing advocates who see it as a better alternative to government welfare programs.Some opponents of a Swiss guaranteed income also attacked it as a return to Marxist economics, even if the idea has far older roots, dating to the 16th-century writings of Thomas More and the 18th-century works of Thomas Paine.After World War II, the concept of a guaranteed income was promoted as a way of redistributing income by some free-market economists led by Milton Friedman, who in part argued that it would be more efficient than the bureaucracy of running dozens of separate programs to help the poor.The backers of the plan did not detail how it would be financed.But the Swiss government and almost all the main political parties had urged voters to turn down the guaranteed income plan, warning that it would require raising an additional 25 billion Swiss francs a year through deep spending cuts or tax increases.And in 2014, the Swiss rejected a proposal to introduce what would have been the world’s highest minimum wage, equivalent to nearly an hour.Referendums are gaining ground in other European countries that normally rely on a system of parliamentary democracy.In early 2013, the Swiss voted to impose some of the world’s most severe restrictions on executive compensation, following a proposal by a small entrepreneur in defiance of the country’s big business lobby.Later that year, however, the Swiss rejected another economic proposal, the “” initiative, which would have limited the salary of top executives to 12 times the wages of their lowest-paid employees.But in Switzerland, the proliferation of such votes has provoked a debate over the ease with which complicated or radical issues can be brought to a referendum. About 46 percent of eligible Swiss voters went to the polls on Sunday, when four other national issues and several regional issues were voted on.Philippe Leuba, a regional politician, said on Swiss national radio on Sunday that it was positive that voters had followed the advice of their federal government.

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