Tuesday, 30 May 2017

UBI to be tested with 26,000 people in East Africa

The time has come to find out whether UBI is effective, argues Michael Faye at LinkedIn.

" In 2017 we plan to launch the largest and longest evaluation of a basic income yet conducted, studying the effects of a 12-year income guarantee delivered by the NGO GiveDirectly to 26,000 individuals in East Africa using random assignment of villages," he says.

"Studying a program of this duration will let us unlock key questions - for example, does making a long term commitment of support matter, or is it simply cash in hand (which is already well-studied) that matters?

"And the size of the transfers will be enough to enable transformational life changes, not merely incremental improvements in standards of living.

"By coordinating research activities across projects, we will be able to gain insight into the extent to which findings from one setting can be generalized to another.

"We may learn that a universal basic income is a universally bad idea. We may find it suits the needs and circumstances of some economies but not others. Or we may find it the universally liberating force of which its most ardent supporters dream," Faye concludes.


Basic income could transform society. But first, it needs to be tested. (LinkedIn)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Robert Reich on the need for UBI

Robert Reich, who was Secretary for Labor in the Clinton administration, explains why he believes UBI will be needed.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Explore UBI: Zuckerberg

In his commencement speech at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg added his name to the list of technology pioneers calling for exploration of the universal basic income.

"Every generation expands its definition of equality," Zuckerberg said. "Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation.

"We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.

"We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work and health care that aren’t tied to one company. We’re all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.

"And yes, giving everyone the freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too," Zuckerberg said.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Freeing the poor from the anxiety of poverty

"In a nation so contorted at times by its Calvinistic impulses, public assistance has come to be seen not as a hand-up to struggling families but as a paternalistic mechanism for “takers” and “abusers” that contributes to so-called cycles of poverty," writes Kevin Clarke at US Catholic.

"Increasingly even modest assistance to the poor has been challenged—healthcare, for example, is seen not as a human right but as a market commodity deliverable not on the primacy of need but the ability to pay," he says.

"What if the problem of how public assistance is offered is not that it promotes dependency but that it is so parsimonious—and provided with so many confusing strings attached—that it merely maintains the misery? What if public aid could be truly liberating instead of incapacitating?" Clarke asks.

"It is hard to imagine a program of poverty mitigation that is as well directed toward those ends than a basic income. It frees the poor not only from need but also the gnawing, exhausting anxiety of poverty and the tyranny of a perplexing social apparatus that has been constructed around poverty alleviation," Clarke concludes.


Can a basic income liberate the poor? (US Catholic)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

UBI tests show positive results

The most entrenched criticism of UBI is that too many would exploit a guaranteed income to sit on their hands, grinding the economy to a halt buthere are signs that this is too gloomy a view, New Scientist reports.

For four years beginning in 1975, the 10,000 citizens of Dauphin in Manitoba, Canada, were guaranteed a basic level of financial security: if their monthly income dropped below a certain level, the government would top it up. Support for this experiment soon dried up, and it was never properly analysed.

Evelyn Forget at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg recently revisited the experiment, comparing public records from Dauphin with those from similar small towns. Forget found the only groups that spent less time in work during the trial were teenage boys and new mothers. The boys were staying in school rather than bowing to pressure to take agricultural jobs, and the mothers were nursing. What’s more, Dauphin had noticeably lower hospitalisation rates and fewer depression-related illnesses.

Other tests are also now taking place in the Netherlands and private firms are also looking at the idea, New Scientist says.


What happens if we pay everyone just to live? (New Scientist)

Monday, 8 May 2017

Basic income a necessity: Yanis Varoufakis

Finnish UBI pilot reduces stress

Citizens receiving a basic monthly income as part of a radical Finnish pilot scheme have seen a reduction in their stress levels, according to local officials, the Independent reports.

Under the scheme, 2,000 people receive 560 euros every month for two years. Recipients do not have to report whether they are seeking employment or how they are spending the money, which is deducted from any benefits they are already receiving.

Marjukka Turunen, head of KELA, the legal unit at Finland's social insurance agency, said as well as cutting bureaucracy, reducing costs and tackling poverty, the scheme was having an indirectly positive effect on people's mental health.

“There was this one woman who said: ‘I was afraid every time the phone would ring, that unemployment services are calling to offer me a job," Ms Turunen said.

The woman was not able to work because she was caring for elderly parents.

Under the pilot, if a participant finds work, they will continued to receive the stipend, easing claimants' fears they will lose out by finding employment, the Independent says.


Finland's universal basic income trial for unemployed reduces stress levels, says official (Independent)

Finland's guaranteed basic income is working to tackle poverty (Kera News)