New academic research shows that basic income improves health

New academic research shows that basic income improves health

PROOF, the interdisciplinary research group that studies food insecurity in Canada, has published research on guaranteed annual income and food insecurity (not having access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food) in Canadian Public Policy.

Seven years of national-level data shows that a guaranteed annual income (in this case, Canada’s Old Age Security program and its supplement for those with low incomes) is effective in decreasing food insecurity among low income seniors in Canada.

“Turning 65 and being eligible for this funding is associated with, on average, a 15 percentage point drop in food insecurity compared to baseline.” 

-PROOF press release

In the households studied, the prevalence of food insecurity was cut by nearly 50% among low income single-person households who were food insecure after the age of 65 and who, during the time of the study, experienced a shift in their source of income from wages or conditional public assistance to public pensions.

At the beginning of this year, 2.83% of Canadians were using food banks. And the use of food banks has been on a steady rise over the past decade across Canada. (Click here for an interactive map of the nation’s food insecurity levels as of 2012.)

While food insecurity in Canada is crescendoing, so is the support for Basic Income (BI) as a way to dampen it. PROOF’s study backs the recent surge of Canadian BI endorsements as a way to solve food insecurity and other problems associated with poverty.

Here are some of the endorsements just in the past year:

  • Food banks like Winnipeg Harvest began advocating for BI.
  • Food Banks Canada put BI at the top of its list of recommendations in its annual report.
  • The Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit endorsed BIG (joining many Ontario health units who have done the same).
  • The Waterloo Regional Council endorsed BI.
  • Valerie Tarasuk (Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto) has recommended a guaranteed annual income to alleviate food insecurity.
  • Hugh Segal recently recommended that food security be one of the variables studied in the upcoming pilot in Ontario (he is one of the Project Advisers).

“Although this work is focused on low income seniors, it paves the way for future research to identify alternative funding models, like basic income, that address poverty in individuals before they are eligible for Old Age Security.” 

-Tim Li PROOF Administrator

On November 17-18, the University of Toronto is hosting a conference on advancing food insecurity research in Canada.

PROOF’s new research is available here:


McIntyre, L., Dutton, D. J., Kwok, C., & Emery, J. H. (2016). Reduction of Food Insecurity among Low-Income Canadian Seniors as a Likely Impact of a Guaranteed Annual Income. Canadian Public Policy, 42(3), 274-286.

Picture: cover of journal Canadian Policy

SPAIN [Basque Country]: Two MPs of Basque Country have long been supporting Unconditional Basic Income

SPAIN [Basque Country]: Two MPs of Basque Country have long been supporting Unconditional Basic Income

On September 25th, Elkarrekin Podemos, a new leftist party with basic income in its platform, won 15% of seats in Basque Parliament. The Socialist Party received 12%, and the centre-right Nationalist Party won a minority government with 37%. Earlier this year in the Spanish general election, Podemos won over a fifth of the seats in the Congress and over a twelfth of the seats in the Senate.

Out of the 11 Podemos MPs in Basque Parliament, two are especially worth note as long-time advocates of UBI.

Tinixara Guanche is a member of the Basque trade union, ESK, which has been fighting from its inception in 1985 for a unionism committed to both workers and socio-political activity. ESK, which defines itself as very participative and non-bureaucratic, has supported UBI since its first steps as a major political force. It continues to support UBI for three main reasons: (1) the redistribution of wealth, (2) equality between women and men, and (3) individual freedom.

ESK has initiated and assisted several UBI-related activities, such as the Popular Legislative Initiative which gave birth to the Basque social protection system. Initially, this Popular Legislative Initiative was actually for a UBI, however, after some parliamentary activity, it became what it is today. Furthermore, ESK supports a platform against social exclusion, advising people who receive social benefits in Basque Country.

Julen Bollain is a member of both BIEN and its Spanish affiliate Red Renta Básica. He has a degree in Business Management from the University of Basque Country, and studied for a year at Saint-Louis University with professors such as Yannick Vanderborght (co-author of L’allocation universelle, and editor of Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research). Julen is currently working on his PhD in Economic Integration, which hinges around UBI, under the direction of Jesús Ferreiro and Daniel Raventós (president of Red Renta Básica).

Julen Bollain says that he is confident that Basque Parliament has the political will to start a debate which will result in a referendum on UBI. The seating in Basque parliament makes it seem hopeful that something can be worked out, that is, if the MPs live up to their party’s name, “United We Can.”

village basque

For those who don’t know, Basque Country is an autonomous community in northern Spain with a population of over 2 million.

Written by Julen Bollain

Edited by Nicholas Yeretsian

Photos by Elkarrekin Podemos and Jago’s France

VIDEO: Basic Income debated on CNN (Chris Hughes & Eduardo Porter)

VIDEO: Basic Income debated on CNN (Chris Hughes & Eduardo Porter)

On October 16, Chris Hughes (Facebook co-founder) and Eduardo Porter (NY Times columnist) debated basic income on CNN’s GPS with Fareed Zakaria.

Arguing in support of basic income, Hughes not only emphasized that job security is falling, but also that Americans are currently living on less than they were 20 years ago. He cited a federal report published in May 2016, finding that nearly 50% of Americans could not find $400 in the case of an emergency—but rather that they would have to borrow or sell something to come up with that amount of money.

Arguing against basic income, Porter said he is confident we will be able to create other demands and find new jobs for people—given that humanity has done so in the past. He estimates that the cost of an American UBI would equal the total amount of federal government expenditure today. Furthermore, he believes that if the US were to implement a basic income, it should be conditional.

Watch the debate here:

Photo: CNN, screenshot from debate.

Grantcoin Distributed to 750 People in 69 Countries

Grantcoin Distributed to 750 People in 69 Countries

The Grantcoin Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit, distributes digital currency in the form of unconditional basic income grants. Grantcoin is the first cryptocurrency managed and distributed by an NPO.

On October 1st, Grantcoin made its second distribution of basic income grants, this time to 750 people in 69 countries–chiefly the US (227), Puerto Rico (114), and Germany (84). This was about three times as many people, and four times as many countries, as their first distribution on June 30th–which had 255 recipients in about 17 countries.

Some might think that this is a pyramid scheme, given that the year-and-a-half-old Foundation is handing out money, and that it promises extra payments for enrolling other members. But Grantcoin is free to join, and those who sign up receive basic income grants regardless of whether or not they refer others to sign up (one receives “referral bonuses” for that). Furthermore, the IRS officially recognizes The Grantcoin Foundation as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. The Grantcoin blockchain stores evidence of their past distributions (their records are organized by country in the middle of this press release).

The Numbers

In this second distribution, Grantcoin gave a total of 10,647,758.62 GRT through Basic Income Grants (5,790,483.68 GRT) and Referral Bonuses (4,857,274.95 GRT). That is approximately $5,323.88 U.S. dollars (at the October 1 price of Grantcoin on Bittrex, the largest exchange for the currency) — an increase from the first distribution’s $1,322.19 USD.

The average recipient received 14,065.73 GRT (about $7.03 USD) in combined Basic Income Grants and Referral Bonuses — an increase from the first distribution’s $5.19 USD. Each recipient received an unconditional 7,649.25 GRT (about $3.82 USD) in Basic Income Grants alone — slightly more than the first distributions $3.80 USD.

While this may appear comically low for a “basic income,” remember that this is only the second distribution. The price of Grantcoin has doubled since the first distribution.

Besides, one of greatest values of Grantcoin is its ability to demonstrate a sustainable, equitable monetary system to the world.

“Grantcoin is… the first currency in world history that’s backed by a nonprofit NGO and designed to help create a more fair global distribution of wealth.” 

— founder and executive director Eric Stetson

Future Goals

The Grantcoin Foundation aims to start automating much of their work in order to grow and maximize efficiency (somewhat ironic for a BI-supporting organization). They expect to have the signup, verification, and distribution processes almost completely automated by the end of 2016.

Participants will be able to receive and spend their Grantcoin through, a social media platform, which the organization expects to provide an easier experience for the user.

Looking further forward, the foundation writes,

“Smart contracts can be setup to enable charitable givers to donate money directly, instantly, to the people of nations and localities. Grantcoin could therefore become a powerful tool for direct charitable giving.”

If they meet this long-term goal, it might be reminiscent of what GiveDirectly does currently.

Get Involved

The easiest way to get Grantcoin is to sign up and verify your account (the verification is simply to confirm that each account is held by a unique human being). The next distribution is on December 30th (distributions are quarterly).

Lastly, they are looking for help–asking people to consider donating to the Foundation, or buying Grantcoin, or volunteering their time and talent.

All of this effort goes toward creating a world in which money serves a humanitarian purpose.