Basic Income Lab at Stanford University accepting applications for Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Basic Income Lab at Stanford University accepting applications for Postdoctoral Research Fellow

The Basic Income Lab at Stanford University has extended its deadline for applications for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the 2019-20 academic year.

Applications are due March 8, 2019.

The postdoctoral fellow will carry out extensive research on basic income experiments, study ongoing pilot designs, review the findings of cash-based programs throughout the world, culminating in a comprehensive report Universal Basic Income: Learning from the Global Evidence Base, which is to be launched at an international event in 2020.

Applicants should have research interests and experience in universal basic income or related cash transfer programs, poverty eradication, or social and economic inequality, and must hold a PhD in economics, political science, public policy, psychology, sociology, or related fields.

See the full description of the position here: https://basicincome.stanford.edu/fellowships/postdoctoral-research-fellow.


Established in February 2017, the Basic Income Lab (BIL) promotes research on the design, implementation, and impact of basic income and related policies, and stimulates discussion on the topic between scholars, policymakers, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and others.

BIL has collaborated with the National League of Cities to create the toolkit Basic Income In Cities: A Guide to City Experiments and Pilot Projects. At present, BIL is preparing to launch an online platform that will provide a detailed visual representation of existing research on basic income.

STOCKTON, CA, US: New Details Revealed in Planned Basic Income Demonstration

STOCKTON, CA, US: New Details Revealed in Planned Basic Income Demonstration

Photo: Newberry Building in downtown Stockton, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Onasill ~ Bill Badzo

 

A new discussion paper, released on Monday, August 20 by Mayor Michael Tubbs and the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) team, reveals details of the design of the basic income pilot planned for launch next year.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs

Following in the heels of Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, the mid-California City of Stockton announced in October 2017 that the municipality was readying a privately financed basic income pilot.

The project arose out of collaboration between Mayor Michael Tubbs and the Economic Security Project (ESP), an initiative founded in California in the previous year to support work related to basic income and cash transfers in the US.

Called the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration or “SEED”, the program will provide approximately 100 Stockton residents with unconditional cash payments of $500 per month for 18 months. 

ESP supplied a $1 million foundational grant to launch SEED, which would be followed by major contributions from such donors as the Future Justice Fund, the Goldhirsh Foundation, tech entrepreneur Serkan Piantino, and Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum.

To prepare a study of the effects of the cash payments, the project has recently enlisted the assistance of two scholars: Dr. Stacia West of the College of Social Work at University of Tennessee, who gained press in the basic income community last year for her study of Dolly Parton’s My People Fund (which provided no-strings-attached cash support to wildfire survivors), and Dr. Amy Castro Baker of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

A new discussion paper from SEED, published on August 20, 2018, lays out newly disclosed details about the process of selecting and enrolling participants. The design is one that has been informed by feedback received from Stockton residents, consulting researchers, and others since the project was unveiled.

 

Seeding SEED (Participant Selection)

As described in the discussion paper, participants in SEED’s basic income trial will be chosen from the population of legal adults (at least 18 years of age) who reside in any Stockton neighborhood in which the median household income is no more than $46,033, the median household income of the city as a whole. The latter provision is intended to allow the project “to be inclusive of residents across the city while ensuring that resources reach those who are in need”.

Although eligible participants must reside in a neighborhood in which the median income is at or below the city’s median, there are no limits on the individual or household income of participants. An adult resident earning above $46,033 is still be eligible to participate in SEED.

Invitations to participate in the basic income demonstration will be sent to 1000 households randomly selected from neighborhoods meeting the income condition. Approximately 100 recipients will then be chosen at random from those who reply to the invitation and give consent to participate. Those who are not selected will be eligible to join the control group. Members of the control group will share the same type of information with the researchers (e.g. information about their financial security, health, and well-being), and they receive compensation in cash for their participation in supplying data, but they will not receive the $500 monthly income.

The invitations are to be mailed by January 2019, with first payments anticipated in February.

 

Project Assessment

Lead researchers West and Castro Baker will publish a pre-analysis plan in October, which will present the study’s methodology in depth.

But SEED’s latest discussion paper does provide a few new details: the project will examine outcomes including “financial security, civic engagement, and health and wellness” through a combination of surveys, interviews, and focus groups, and the research team will compare outcomes among the cash recipients to those of a control group (which, as mentioned above, will be composed of others from the population of eligible participants).

Although SEED is now to include a controlled experiment, the project still calls itself a “demonstration” instead of an “experiment”, and this not due (merely) to the attractiveness of “SEED” as an acronym rather than “SEEE”; the generation of stories and anecdotes remains a core purpose of SEED.

As also described in the recent discussion paper, Mayor Tubbs and his team aspire to produce stories about how a modest guaranteed income impacts individual lives, as well as how a social experiment impacts a city.

The demonstration will track the individual experiences of a small group of participants who volunteer to speak publicly about the effects of the program on their lives. Artists will also assist in delivering the narrative. For example, the paper indicates that a public event featuring poetry and spoken word performances is to be held at the conclusion of the project.  

In addition to telling the stories of individual recipients, the SEED team intends to set the project “in a larger framework for a broader vision for a new social contract”, presenting it “as part of the larger story of Stockton, a trailblazing city on the rise”.

 

Motivation

The Stockton project is motivated by the belief that an unconditional basic income is “one of the most effective tools” to reduce poverty and mitigate economic insecurity. SEED states, “We are motivated to test a guaranteed income in Stockton because we believe it is to combat poverty. Unconditional cash can supplement and enhance the current social safety net.”

Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s endorsement of a guaranteed annual income, Mayor Tubbs developed an interest in basic income as part of a broader program to help his city recover from economic devastation. Hit badly by the economic collapse of 2008, Stockton was declared “America’s most miserable city” by Forbes in 2011 and filed for bankruptcy in 2012, becoming the largest US city to have done so at the time (although soon surpassed by Detroit).

Tubbs was elected to Stockton’s City Council in 2012, at the age of only 22, and in 2016 defeated incumbent Anthony Silva to be elected as mayor of the city of 300,000 — the youngest mayor in the city’s history and the first African American.

Since assuming office, Tubbs has pursued a range of initiatives to combat the effects of economic devastation. He led Stockton in creating a Housing Mitigation Fund to reduce financial risk for landlords who rent homes to the homeless, for example, and he secured a philanthropic grant to launch another privately funded initiative, Stockton Scholars, which provides scholarships to help Stockton high school students attend college or university. Mayor Tubbs also spearheaded a partnership with the city and Advance Peace, a controversial program that aims to reduce gun violence by providing cash assistance and other personal support to those most likely to commit violent crimes. In addition to heading SEED, he is currently constructing a re-skilling program to help close the skills gap between employers and Stockton job-seekers.

It is against this background that SEED declares it is “taking place within a larger collective impact model to build a world-class cradle-to-career pipeline of education, public safety, and opportunity”.

 

A “Basic Income” Trial?

Past articles in Basic Income News have stressed that many existing so-called “basic income” experiments are constrained in ways that call into question their resemblance to a universal and unconditional basic income. In many cases, for example, participants have been selected only from pools of individuals with low incomes (Ontario, Y Combinator), who are unemployed (Finland), or who are currently receiving other welfare or social assistance benefits (The Netherlands, Barcelona). In some cases, moreover, the cash payments are reduced with earned income (e.g. Ontario, The Netherlands).

The design of the Stockton pilot is notable in that there is no requirement that individual participants be low-income, unemployed, or receiving government assistance. As mentioned above, participants must reside in neighborhood with an average income at or below the city median; however, participants themselves needn’t have an income below this level (e.g., in principle, invitations to participate could be sent to affluent investors who has purchased homes in low-income Stockton neighborhoods with the hope of later turning a profit).

Additionally, the $500 payments will not be clawed back with additional earned income. That said, however, other benefits might. SEED is currently working with government benefits agencies to determine how the unconditional cash grants will impact recipients’ eligibility for means-tested benefits. Under current US policy, such a $500 per month of “reasonably anticipated income” would generally need to be reported as household income. However, Tubbs hopes to secure waivers for participants to prevent or mitigate potential loss of benefits during the trial. SEED states that it will provide potential recipients with detailed information about the effect of participation on public benefits, as well as providing opportunities to consult with benefits eligibility counselors prior to consenting to join the project.

 

More Information

Official Paper: “Our Vision for SEED: A Discussion Paper” (August 20, 2018).

Official Website: www.stocktondemonstration.org.

 

US: Chicago Tribune against Basic Income for City

US: Chicago Tribune against Basic Income for City

The Chicago Tribune, the most-read newspaper in the Chicago area, has come out in opposition to Alderman Ameya Pawar’s proposal to use the city as a test site for basic income.

Earlier this year, Pawar proposed legislation to create a task force to investigate a pilot study in which 1000 Chicago families would receive an unconditional basic income of $500 per month. Pawar’s resolution is still pending approval from the Chicago City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Alderman has not proposed a specific means to finance such a pilot project, and has indicated in interviews that he envisions the project being supported at least in part through private philanthropy.  

In an editorial published on August 6, the Tribune foregrounds the issue of cost in rejecting Pawar’s idea for a municipal basic income pilot study — or, all the more, a full-fledged municipal basic income:

“Pawar’s plan suffers from a number of flaws, the most obvious being: How would Chicago pay for it? Chicago has huge unfunded pension obligations, a lousy bond rating and rising property taxes. This pilot program would cost at least $6 million a year. When asked on WTTW’s ‘Chicago Tonight’ where the money would come from, Pawar had no answer.”

“Even if the Chicago City Council could find the money and the project proved a great success, what then? Expanding to include everyone — the term is ‘universal basic income,’ remember — or even a significant share of Chicagoans would be prohibitively expensive.”  

In the editorial, the Tribune does not reject the idea of basic income itself, but deems it financially infeasible on the city-level and politically infeasible on the national-level:

“Realistically, given the sums required, a UBI would require a new federal initiative, which is not going to come from this president or this Congress. [Chicago] City Hall would be wiser to look for ways to help raise incomes among working-class and poor residents without taking on commitments it can’t afford.”

With regard to alternative strategies to raise incomes of the poor and working class, the Tribune suggests investment in and deregulation of the private sector (“There is no substitute for a thriving private sector to generate employment and boost incomes”), job-training or apprenticeship programs, and an expansion of affordable housing.

The Editorial Board concludes on a somewhat ambivalent note concerning basic income experimentation, as a poor allocation of money and priorities at present, but as something potentially worth pursuing if and when it becomes affordable:

“If Chicago becomes economically healthy and fiscally sound, it will achieve far more benefits for hard-pressed Chicagoans than Pawar’s pilot possibly could. And who knows? Prosperity-driven increases in city revenue might make ideas like his affordable.”  

The Chicago Tribune has no official political alignment. Wikipedia classifies it as “conservative” (right-wing), while websites purported reporting on media bias have placed it as “left-center” (Media Bias/Fact Check), “center” (AllSides), and “leans conservative” (Boston University Libraries). The newspaper endorsed a third-party candidate, Libertarian Gary Johnson, in the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Reference

Editorial Board, “Instead of a Universal Basic Income for Chicagoans…,” Chicago Tribune, 6 August 2018.

***

Reviewed by Dawn Howard

Photo: “Chicago” CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Peter Miller

US: Poll of “Left Agenda” Examines Support for Basic Income

Photo: “Fight for $15” Minimum Wage Protest, CC BY-SA 2.0 The All-Nite Images

 

A recently released survey shows support for an income-tax-funded basic income from people of color and the working class, but opposition from college-educated white Americans.

The left-wing think tank Data for Progress included a question about universal basic income (UBI) in Polling the Left Agenda, an opinion survey recently conducted to gain insight into the political viability of potential “big-ticket” progressive proposals.

The think tank hopes to remedy a lack of data concerning voter support for such policies, policies that politicians might be inclined to dismiss as too radical to gain sufficient support from the electorate:

“Because the policies that are exciting progressive voters have not yet caught the attention of most pollsters, debates over how ready the broader electorate is for a more progressive Democratic platform have been reduced to mere speculation. We set out to change that … We chose policies that haven’t been polled often, but could be central to the 2020 Presidential election.”

Policies considered in the poll included not only UBI but also a federal job guarantee, a stakeholder grant or “baby bond”, reparations for black Americans, and a 90 percent marginal income tax on millionaires, among other proposals.     

In collaboration with YouGov Blue (a division of market research organization YouGov that serves clients from the political left), Data for Progress interviewed 1515 eligible US voters between July 13 and 16, 2018. Respondents were randomly selected and represented the full US political spectrum, not only progressives (e.g. about 44 percent of respondents who voted in the 2016 Presidential election backed Republican nominee Donald Trump).

 

Querying Support for UBI

Although the survey did not explicitly use the term, UBI was the intended target of one of the survey’s ten policy questions:

Would you support or oppose giving every American a monthly check from the government of $1,000, which would be paid for by raising taxes on individuals earning more than $150,000 a year?

Overall, 37 percent of respondents supported the policy (23 percent strongly and 14 percent “somewhat”), while 43 percent opposed it (31 percent strongly), and the rest remained neutral or undecided. However, as discussed below, net support for the policy was observed within some demographic groups, such as Blacks, Hispanics, women, eligible voters under 45 years of age, and those without any college education.

It bears note that the questionnaire did not query respondents about UBI per se but about a specific type of UBI: one of a certain specified amount (US$1000 per month) and funding mechanism (a higher personal income tax for individuals making more than US$150,000 per year).

Because of this, we must be cautious in making comparisons between the Data for Progress poll and other recent surveys of Americans’ opinions on UBI, such as those conducted in 2017 by Ipsos, Morning Consult, or Gallup, or the poll commissioned by the Economic Security Project in 2016. None of the latter polls included reference to a specific amount or funding mechanism in initial questions about UBI (although some proposed specific sources of funds in follow-up questions). At the same time, included other extraneous qualifications (e.g. Gallup’s poll asked specifically about a UBI introduced “as a way to help Americans who lose their jobs because of advances in artificial intelligence”). Thus, although ostensibly all surveys about Americans’ attitudes UBI, these studies cannot be said all to have measured the exact same thing.

Of particular significance is the fact that the Data for Progress questionnaire asked specifically about a UBI funded by a personal income tax. Data from earlier surveys already indicate that support for UBI decreases when respondents are told that the program would be accompanied by higher taxes.

A 2017 survey of British adults, for example, found that 49 percent of respondents would support “a regular income paid in cash to every individual adult in the UK, regardless of their working status and income from other sources”, but support dropped to 30 percent if the policy would entail an increase in taxes. Similarly, as Jurgen De Wispelaere has pointed out, a government-sponsored working group in Finland “found that Finnish support for basic income decreased quite radically once questions about the amount of basic income are paired with corresponding questions about the taxes needed to fund it”. And a 2016 Canadian poll found 67 percent of respondents in favor of a guaranteed income of C$30,000 per year, but only 34 percent said they themselves would be willing to pay more in taxes to support a government-sponsored guaranteed income.

Past American surveys have shown similar results. In the aforementioned Gallup poll, 48 percent of individuals surveyed supported “a universal basic income program as a way to help Americans who lose their jobs because of advances in artificial intelligence”. However, out of those who expressed support for the program, only a minority (46 percent) replied affirmatively to a follow-up question asking whether they would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund it. Moreover, the Economic Security Project study revealed a drop in support for a “base income” from 45 to 39 percent, and an increase in opposition from 35 to 50 percent, after respondents were informed that the program “would be paid for by tax revenues”. Notably in the latter case, the survey respondents were not told specifically that they themselves would have to pay higher taxes.

It is not uncommon to hear American basic income advocates speak of a US$1000 basic income funded in part by an increase in personal income taxes. However, there are other reasons why details are not immaterial. For one important example, note that UBI proponents also frequently cite the popularity of Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), an unconditional cash payment to all state residents, to argue that the policy could garner mainstream appeal in the US. The PFD, however, is a vastly different program from the description specified in the Data for Progress poll: Alaska’s PFD is distributed annually rather than monthly, closer to US$1000 per year than per month (its amount varies but stood at US$1100 in 2017 and US$1022 in 2016), and funded not from personal income taxes — Alaska is, in fact, one of a handful of US states with no state income tax — but from investment earnings on revenue from oil and other state-owned resources.

I will make one final note on questionnaire wording before turning to examine some results of “Polling the Left Agenda” in more detail: it is also important be mindful of what details are not explicitly noted in the survey question on UBI, such as the fact that the payment is not conditional on work or other requirements. The previously cited Economic Security Project survey found that support also declined when respondents were directly told that receipt of a UBI “is not tied to work or having a job” or that the money “could be used for anything”. Although the unconditionality of the grant is implicit in the description of “giving every American a monthly check”, individuals’ reactions and responses can vary depending one what is made salient and explicit when questioned.

 

Additional Survey Results

Race and Education Level

The UBI proposal received the strongest support from people of color and non-college educated Americans (or “working class” as Data for Progress labels the latter group).

As Data for Progress summarized what it referred to as the “key finding” of its study, UBI “is most popular among working class people of color, followed by college educated people of color” and “net support among working class whites” while being “rejected by college-educated whites”.

Black respondents supported the proposal by a margin of 49 percent to 19 percent (with 33 percent expressing strong support), while Hispanic respondents supported it by a much narrowed margin of 36 percent to 34 percent. In contrast, 47 percent of white respondents opposed the policy (with 35 percent strongly opposing it), while 36 percent supported it. 

Across education levels, the policy proposal received net support only among those with no college education (40 percent in support to 29 percent opposed). Overall, over 40 percent of college graduates strongly opposed the policy. 

Cross-tabulated data tables from Data for Progress.

These demographic trends remain consistent with the results of the 2017 National Tracking Poll conducted by Morning Consult and Politico, which queried over 1400 eligible US voters on their support or opposition to “a proposal in which the government would provide all Americans a regular, unconditional sum of money, sometimes referred to as universal basic income” (see the discussion by Patrick Hoare in a Basic Income News article on the survey).

Political Alignment

The UBI proposal also received majority support from respondents who voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, with 35 percent of Clinton voters strongly supporting the policy. (We might here note that, while Clinton herself is sometimes classified as a UBI supporter due to a jettisoned proposal described in her memoir, she opposed UBI during her campaign, and her rejected proposal was for a resource dividend inspired by Alaska’s PFD, not financed by a higher personal income taxes.)

In contrast, less than 17 percent of Trump voters in the survey supported the idea of an income-tax-funded UBI. Indeed, among those who voted for the Republican candidate, 64 percent strongly opposed the policy.

Once again, this result aligns with last year’s National Tracking Poll, which found that 56 percent of Clinton voters supported a UBI, with 28 percent opposed to the proposal. In contrast, only 32 percent of respondents who voted for Trump expressed support for the idea of UBI, while 52 percent expressed opposition. Similarly, the Gallup poll found that only 28 percent of Republican respondents supported UBI as a policy to address technological unemployment, in contrast to 65 percent of Democrats.

Some UBI supporters, being keen to depict the policy as broadly trans-partisan (“not left or right but forward”), might balk at portraying the idea as specifically “progressive” or as a potential part of “the left agenda”. If these recent surveys are a valid measure, however, there is evidence that UBI is indeed an idea that strikes a much greater resonance with America’s left.

Other Demographic Categories

The poll also suggests that an income-tax-funded UBI is more popular among women, younger Americans, and lower-income individuals, and less popular among men, older Americans, and higher-income individuals.

Women displayed a slight margin of net support for the proposal (39 percent to 37 percent), although 10 percent remained unsure, while male respondents rejected the idea 50 percent to 35 percent (with 4 percent remaining unsure).

Additionally, while the policy proposal garnered net support from young voters (in both the “under 30” and “30-44” age groups), it received net opposition from those 45 and older, and nearly half of respondents over 65 strongly opposed it.

Again, these general demographic trends tend to reflect previous survey research, such as the 2017 Gallup poll, which found greater supporter for UBI among female respondents and declining support through each of its four age categories. The National Tracking Poll also revealed stronger opposition from older age groups (especially among those over 65). In the latter survey, however, men were seen to be slightly more favorable to a general UBI proposal than were women.

Finally, the Data for Progress poll showed that lower incomes tend to be associated with a higher degree of support for UBI; while supporters outnumbered opponents among respondents with family incomes under US$40,000 per year, opponents predominated in higher income categories. This finding also remains consistent with other recent studies.

 

Reaction from The Nation

So, then, is basic income a viable progressive proposal? Should Democrats back the idea in the 2020 election? Journalist Clio Chang is one commentator who believes that the survey results do indeed suggest an affirmative answer, as she writes in The Nation, the popular American progressive political journal:

“[S]ome sort of cash welfare should be part of the progressive agenda, not in small part because it would help blow up the racist idea that benefits should be tied to work and finally kill Reagan’s welfare-queen myth. As the polling shows, even the most radically progressive proposals are not the political death sentences that critics would have you believe.”

ONTARIO, CANADA: Project Advisors Oppose Termination of Pilot Study

ONTARIO, CANADA: Project Advisors Oppose Termination of Pilot Study

Photo: Stormy weather in Ontario, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Jeff S. PhotoArt

 

Ontario’s guaranteed income pilot has been ended nearly two years early, prompting researchers and advisors who contributed the project to speak out.

On Tuesday, July 31, Ontario’s recently elected Progressive Conservative (PC) government announced the cancellation of the province’s guaranteed income experiment, reneging on a statement made during the campaign that the PC would see the three-year experiment through to its end if elected to form the new government.

The abrupt and unexpected announcement stirred the ire of politicians, anti-poverty advocates, and, not least, program participants themselves. Nonetheless, Lisa MacLeod, who presented the news at a press conference in her capacity as Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, has held her ground, dismissing claims that the PC broke a campaign promise as “fake news” since the party never included a commitment to the experiment in its campaign platform. Her words, however, have left many unappeased and continuing to fight to save the project.

Those who have spoken out again this decision of the PC government’s include several individuals involved with the implementation of the experiment, such as project advisors Hugh Segal and Kwame McKenzie, and at least one researcher who spoke to the press anonymously out of concern for confidentiality.  

 

Former Canadian Senator Hon. Hugh Segal

The Honourable Hugh Segal, former Canadian Senator of the Conservative Party, was appointed as Special Advisor on Basic Income by Ontario’s Liberal government during the project’s initial planning stages. In this role, Segal authored the comprehensive discussion paper (“Finding a Better Way: A Basic Income Pilot Project for Ontario“) that laid the groundwork for the design and implementation of the experiment.

When MacLeod announced the pilot’s early termination, Segal responded with a scathing opinion column in The Globe and Mail, in which he foregrounds the issue of fairness to participants: “These people believed the promise that they would not end up worse off for signing up for the pilot project. They have now been let down badly.”

“[W]hen a party gives its word – as then-Official Opposition leader Patrick Brown gave me in 2016 and PC Party Leader Doug Ford echoed through his spokesperson during the 2018 election campaign – that it would let the pilot project go forward before judging the results […] , this assurance influenced those signing up.”

Segal also addresses the assertion of MacLeod and PC government that the experiment was too expensive to continue: “Looking at the cost of the pilot project is fair enough – but frankly, simplistic. We know that poverty is a perfect predictor of poor health and early hospitalization, bad educational outcomes, substance abuse and problems with the police – all of which cost Ontario billions.”

Drawing a connection to Premier Ford’s key policy goal of ending so-called “hallway health care” (hospital facilities so inadequate that patients must be treated and housed in corridors), Segal additionally speculates that a guaranteed income could lower hospitalization rates as low-income individuals begin “eating better, living more balanced lives and making progress in work, education and family.” He laments that “we will now never know” whether the policy would have had such predicted positive effects on health outcomes.

 

Dr. Kwame McKenzie

Dr. Kwame McKenzie, psychiatrist and CEO of the Wellesley Institute, had been named Special Advisor to the Ontario Basic Income Pilot by the previous provincial government. Like Segal, McKenzie is now concerned about the effect of the experiment’s cancellation on those currently enrolled in it. The psychiatrist tweeted on August 1, the day after the experiment was cancelled, that he “woke this morning more worried about the health impacts on participants. This is a high risk situation.”

McKenzie spoke to CBC Radio about his concerns, emphasizing that participants currently face a “difficult and stressful time” which could lead to many and severe possible physiological consequences. He noted that many of those who enrolled in the pilot have made “life-changing decisions” founded on the belief that they would have a three-year guaranteed income, and argued that they now need both adequate financial support (he recommended at least a year to wind down the project) and personal support in making new decisions.

Also like Segal, McKenzie believes that a guaranteed income could have promoted key objectives of the PC government. He stressed, for example, its potential to result in better jobs for low-income people. Asked by CBC about MacLeod’s work-focused approach to welfare, McKenzie stated that he agrees that “good jobs is a great health intervention” (while cautioning that bad jobs tend to worsen health). He went on, however, to explain that a guaranteed income might have offered a effective means to achieve this goal, bemoaning “Now I guess we’ll never know.” 

 

Speaking anonymously to CBC, another researcher on the experiment’s academic team more directly addressed MacLeod’s allegation that the pilot project is not working: “There’s no conceivable way that they were told the project wasn’t working. We just don’t have any data to know whether it was working or not.”

The researcher acknowledged that individual recipients have gone to the media with stories that are “very positive” but underlined the fact that these reports might not be representative: “[T]he whole point of our project was to just stand back from all the stories people are telling and try to look at the data in a reasonably scientific way.”

If the experiment had continued as planned, the research group was expected to evaluate outcomes in many areas — potentially including, among others, food security, stress and anxiety, healthcare usage, housing stability, education, and employment — comparing data gathered from the 4,000 guaranteed income recipients to that collected from a control group.

Results had been expected to be reported to the public in 2020.