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United States: Alaska citizen’s monthly payment means recipients work more, not less

Despite endorsing a larger carbon footprint for Alaska, the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD payment, according to a survey released last week, of one thousand employees), encouraged only one per cent of recipients to work less.

Perhaps the oldest, continuous, Basic Income-like social program is the Alaska PFD, going since the 1980s and currently paying every adult citizen $2,072 annually. Last year’s report indicated that PFD has kept 2-3 per cent of Alaska’s population – some 15-20,000 people – above the poverty line since 1990.

Wrote Jack Thorold in a blog for RSA (a charity which encourages the release of human potential to address the challenges that society faces):

“…it’s a fair guess that at least for some the PFD frees them to do other valuable activities: caring for relatives or learning new skills, for example.”

Also, according to another survey, Alaskans don’t spend their PFD on frivolous things. Instead, 72 per cent of Alaskans report earmarking their dividends for essentials such as paying off debts, education and saving for retirement or emergencies. Thorold went on in his blog to discuss the disappointing – especially relative to the idea of a universal basic income – recent results of the Trussell Trust  report on foodbank usage in the UK, which contain:

– 78 per cent of those referred to foodbanks are severely food insecure, meaning that they had gone without eating, perhaps for multiple consecutive days, in the last twelve months;

– 40 per cent of users are driven to foodbanks as a result of a delayed benefit payment;

– About two thirds of foodbank users had recently been hit by an ‘income shock’, most commonly sharp rises in food or housing costs.

Thorold ended his blog, going back to the Alaska PFD: “Alaska’s PFD provides good evidence that unconditional payments can work, and we should take notice.”

More information at:

Kate McFarland, “Alaska, US: State senator prepares bill to restore full amount of 2016 PFD”, Basic Income News, October 9th 2016

Nathaniel Herz, “Alaska lawmaker stokes Permanent Fund fight with push to add $1,000 to dividends” Alaska Dispatch News, October 6th 2016

Paula Dobbyn, “State senator prepares bill to restore full amount of 2016 Permanent Fund dividend” KTUU, October 5th 2016

Travis Khachatoorian. “With reduced PFDs on the way, protests expected at budget forum” KTUU, September 30th 2016

About Peter Vandevanter

Peter Vandevanter has written 9 articles.

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