Swiss voters rejected the introduction of an unconditional basic income by 76.9 per cent to 23.1 per cent on Sunday.
The world's first such vote was aimed at guaranteeing every adult a minimum monthly income of 2,500 Swiss francs (2,535 dollars). Every child would get 625 francs. At the same time, it would foresee scrapping jobless, social and pension payments.
Turnout for the referendum was 46.9 per cent, in line with the per cent of eligible votes that have shown up for similar referendums in Switzerland in the past.
The initiators of the referendum still hailed the vote as a "sensational success," saying it was "significantly more that we expected," according to spokesman Daniel Haeni.
"It means the debate goes on, and also internationally," Haeni said.
The main reason the proposal was rejected was a lack of clarity and doubts about how it would be financed, gfs.bern head Claude Longchamp told SRF television.
The progressives who launched the initiative said basic income would be a necessary reaction to the current digital revolution, which has resulted in fewer jobs.
The Swiss government was opposed to the concept, arguing that austerity measures or tax hikes would have been necessary to finance it.
The government also worried that the basic income would attract many migrants.
Left-wing parties in Germany and the anti-globalist Five Star Movement in Italy have also been advocating the basic income concept.
Switzerland also held separate referenda on speeding up asylum procedures, which passed with 66.8 per cent in favour, and on obliging state-owned enterprises like the national railways to focus on public service rather than profits, which was rejected by 67.6 of voters.