The RSA, a UK-based charity that aims to unleash human potential for enterprise and creativity, released a report discussing how basic income can be studied in the UK. The report is a toolkit for basic income study designs, highlighting fundamental features of a basic income study, potential outcomes and outlining four potential study designs. The report builds on previous research by the RSA, such as the Creative Citizen, Creative State report, and is released after the findings from the Welfare Conditionality Report found that welfare conditionality does little to increase people’s motivation to work.


The report suggests a minimum sample size of 1000 people or more to achieve statistical significance. Studies should have a duration of 2 years or more in order to assess the medium-term effects of basic income, such as changes in behaviour, community culture, poverty and inequality. Mixed methods are suggested for data collection, including the collection of demographic data and use of qualitative interviews. It also highlights the importance of identifying a group of key stakeholders, including community leaders and people working in non-governmental organisations and the public sector, to assist with the study design and the analysis of the results. This would ensure that relevant outcomes are identified and the collected data is properly understood and translated into relevant policy.


Interestingly, the report also includes a list of potentially relevant outcomes divided into direct, shorter term and indirect, medium term outcomes. The choice of outcomes is to be aligned with the policy objectives of the study and can be informed by stakeholder engagement. The authors include relevant references to studies where these outcomes have been looked at before and can provide a blueprint for measurement. Direct incomes include those related to health, lifestyle and the community; personal development; labour and work; personal finances; and poverty, feelings of security and prejudice. Indirect outcomes include community; economic impacts; and costs/savings for the government.


The report also outlines four potential experiments, which are based on past, current and future basic income studies, including summaries of the costs for each experiment. Of the four studies, only scenario 1 and 3 investigate basic income as defined by BIEN as the sole intervention.


  1. Scenario 1 is a mid-scale saturation site where all the people in a given area, such as a council ward, receive basic income payments compared to a similar population who do not receive basic income payments. Case study example: Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada;
  1. Scenario 2 is a targeted cohort study looking at a specific targeted population who may experience difficulties entering or sustaining work such as young adults, older adults, unemployed people and people receiving welfare or people with a low income. Case study example: Kela, Finland;
  1. Scenario 3 is a microsite which looks at a very small population, such as a council estate or distinct residential neighbourhood. The intervention is basic income payments with additional payments where basic income falls short of currently received welfare payments (such as in cases where people are in receipt of welfare for children) in order to ensure no one is worse off. Case study example: Homeless pilot, City of London, UK;
  1. Scenario 4 is a study of combined basic income and additional interventions (such as rent support, rent controls, temporary job placement) compared to a control group with no interventions, or to a group who receive the additional intervention only. Case study example: Barcelona, Spain.


More information at:

Charlie Young, “Realizing basic income experiments in the UK”, RSA Action and Research Centre, August 2018

About Hannah Trippier

Hannah Trippier has written 6 articles.