Countries that Have Tried Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a program that provides citizens of a country with a monthly or annual stipend. It is given to individuals regardless of their employment status, income, or resources they own. The objective of Universal Basic Income is to reduce poverty and wealth disparity in a country. So far, no country has implemented Universal Basic Income but some countries have tried to implement it. Some of the countries that have tried UBI include:

United States

The United States has tried several programs in the spirit of Basic Income. The most notable one is the Alaska Permanent Fund. Every citizen is given a share of America’s oil and gas revenues amounting to between $1,000 and $2,000. The results of the program had no effect on employment but had an effect on fertility by encouraging people to have more kids.

There was also another program in North Carolina where every member was getting between $4,000 and $6,000 every year. The results showed that it led to improved mental health, and improved education and did not discourage people from working.

Canada

Canada has tried several Basic Income programs. The first pilot program, known as Mincome targeted the residents of Manitoba and was conducted in 1974. Every family was getting 16,000 CAD. The results of the program showed improvement in education since there was less involvement in labor among school-going children.

The second pilot project was conducted in Ontario in 2017. Single participants were getting 16,989 CAD while married participants were getting 24,027 CAD. However, the project was canceled before its completion. Its preliminary findings showed that there was decreased use of alcohol and tobacco among over 50% of the participants.

Brazil

Brazil has tried a basic income-like program known as Bolsa Familia in 2004. However, this program is distinct from basic income in that it has conditions. For example, participants had to keep their children in school and visit health clinics.

Also, between 2008 and 2014, there was another basic income trial in the village of Quatinga Velho. It was targeting one hundred participants and each was receiving 30 reals ($8) every month.

In 2020, Brazil introduced another basic income program known as Renda Básica de Cidadania targeting the residents of Marica. Each participant was receiving 130 reals ($35). The program was funded through oil royalties and the fund was accessed in the form of a card. 

Finland

Finland launched a basic income trial program in 2016 targeting unemployed citizens. The program targeted 2,000 randomly selected participants and each was getting 560 euros. The program ended in 2018. The findings of the trial program showed that participants were happier and less stressed leading to improved health.

Namibia

Namibia had a basic income pilot program between 2008 and 2009. Every resident of Otjivero-Omitara was entitled to 100 Namibian dollars ($6.75) every month. The program was funded by donors from around the world.

Findings from the pilot program showed that cases of child malnutrition had dropped significantly while school enrollment went up. Also, social crimes such as theft had significantly dropped.

India

India had a basic income pilot program between 2011 and 2012. The program targeted 6,000 residents of Madhya Pradesh. The program was funded by Unicef and was run in two phases.

In the first phase, every man, woman, and child was entitled to receive a stipend. Every adult was receiving 200 rupees while every child would receive 100 rupees. The stipend for children was paid to the guardian. After a year, the stipend was increased to 300 rupees and 150 rupees for adults and children respectively.

In the second phase, every member of the village was receiving 300 rupees per adult and 150 rupees per child. The findings of both programs showed that there was an improvement in nutrition, sanitation and school attendance among children has risen.

Summary of Countries that Have Tried Universal Basic Income

Findings from countries that have tried a form of Basic Income showed that it leads to improved health since people reduced their financial stress. Additionally, it leads to improvement in educational outcomes since children can stay in school instead of working to support their families.  

Written by: Vincent Nyoike

After Roe, Families Need Universal Basic Income More Than Ever

After Roe, Families Need Universal Basic Income More Than Ever

TIME Magazine has published an article by Stacey Rutland, the founder of Income Movement – an organization building broad grassroots coalitions in support of basic income in the United States. Rutland writes a personal story of how important an abortion was to her and her future husband. She writes, “At the time, I was working 30 hours a week, taking a full load of classes, and using Pell Grants and student loans to cover the gaps. The cost for an abortion was expensive, more than $500. Even with my partner helping cover costs, this was a significant shock to my ability to cover my regular monthly living expenses.”

Rutland goes on to say “…I know first-hand how crucial extra cash will be to women in need of abortion and the extra costs they’ll have to incur to receive one if they live in one of the majority of states poised to outlaw abortion. A guaranteed income is not an alternative to abortion access, but it will certainly help women overcome the tremendous barriers they’ll face with the end of legal abortion rights.” Read the full article here.

Where does Korea’s basic income movement go next?

Where does Korea’s basic income movement go next?

On March 9th, 48.56 percent of Korean people voted for Yoon Seok-yeol of the People Power Party which won only 0.7 percent more compared to 47.83% for Lee Jae-myung who pledged to implement basic income. With less than 1 percent difference in his loss, there is a local election coming in two weeks and another general election in two years. Where will Korea’s basic income movement go after Lee Je-myeong ‘s defeat?

Yoon Suk-yeol can no longer ignore Universal Basic Income, and the world is on the verge of realizing basic income. Yoon Seok-yeol, who became the new owner of Cheongwadae (Blue House), cannot pass any legislation without the consent of the Democratic Party with 172 seats, 57 percent overall. HIs People Power Party only holds 110 seats which represent 36 percent. This will remain the case unless they get more seats in the upcoming general election in two years. On the contrary, it is also a story that the Democratic Party of Korea can legislate the basic income that Lee Jae-myung promised if he is elected as a member of parliament in the by-election.

I interviewed Oh Jun-Ho, who was the presidential candidate for the Basic Income Party about the difference between Lee Jae-myung’s basic income pledge and his.

Oh Jun-Ho: There are three differences between my UBI policy from Lee Jae-myung’s:

1) First of all, the amount of the UBI is different. We promised 650,000₩ (533$) per month, which can support enough basic need for a living in Korea but Candidate Lee Jae-myung offered a very low amount of 83,000 ₩ (68$) per month.

2) In order to raise the financial resources, I insisted on reforming the tax and tax system to solve the polarization of wealth, and to expand basic income through redistribution of wealth, but candidate Lee Jae-myung does not seem to redistribute wealth because he drew a line about raising taxes. He is weak on that point.

3) Compared to us, presenting universal basic income as a policy and pledge, candidate Lee kept it as a pledge but hid or made his choice ambiguous in the election. It was disappointing for those who supported basic income with Lee, saying, “If there is public consent, we can do it, but if not, we won’t” (as quoted by The Korea Economic Daily, Dec. 2nd, 2021). Conversely, this is also the reason why those disappointed with Lee’s basic income supported me, Oh Jun-Ho.

Limitations:

The election was only focused on both parties so there were no alternative policy debates. As a voter and candidate, there was no such place where I could talk about UBI. Since only both camps had fights and policy spaces were not open, it was difficult to inform us of alternatives by ourselves as minor and minority parties.

Nevertheless, because I was there, there could be a future alternative to basic income or a justification for basic income. Because I criticized Lee Jae-myung’s timid basic income and the attitude of the Justice Party and other political parties toward selective welfare. I was able to inform the public that basic income was justifiable a little. In addition, public voters who support basic income have been created.

Expectations:

Though the results of the vote did not appear to be significant due to the phenomenon of leaning toward both parties, it cannot be evaluated only in this election, and it will be evaluated in the long-term trend later. Even if the people did not support this time, positive perceptions must have grown, and I am optimistic that Korea will return to positive support for the subsequent movement in the next election.

Considering that we are a new party, one member of the National Assembly, and only a small number of members, I don’t think we had too few votes (0.05%). Since other parties with a lot more party members won fewer votes than us, there is still a task of expanding the organizations and the number of voters who supported us, and we have to solve it well to expand our support.

Under the Yoon Seok-yeol administration, it is unclear whether Lee Jae-myung or his supporters will be one who can lead UBI in Korea from now. However, Seoul, which held a hopeful and important election, has enough potential to ignite it again. 

Local Elections:

Local governments themselves do not have tax rights, so they cannot collect and distribute taxes. We can’t talk at the national level. However, whether it is real estate or industry, there has been a problem that the common interests created within the common body have not been distributed, so we will talk about returning them to basic income, universal welfare, and universal services that must go to the majority in each province.

I also interviewed An Hyo-sang, the chair of BIKN about the election.

An Hyo-sang: We need time to think about evaluating the process and results of the presidential election. But we have the local election soon. So we quickly need to talk about it. From a broad viewpoint, we must think about the weak points and strong points we had.

We considered 2 viewpoints.

First, what conditions can BI have in its position before the election? Basic Income gained traction for implementation because of a confident and strong politician. Lee embraced the Basic Income idea as his election pledge. Since the base of BI movement is not strong, there was a very broad gap between the front line candidate Lee was based and where the basic Income movement is positioned. So after Candidate Lee was defeated, the bubble of basic income ideas that people enjoyed blew up. 

We need to face the reality of where the basic Income movement is positioned. We will have to try to gain broad and strong support from the ordinary people step by step with education, campaigns, propagation, organizations, and so on.

Despite Lee’s defeat and still our weakness, his idea planted the seeds of the basic income idea worldwide which will be widespread someday. We will harvest the fruits of our effort. We need to take time to see these fruits.

Second, as a center of the Basic Income movement, the Basic Income Korean Network (BIKN) will have two directions for the local election.

1) We will deepen our theory of our basic Income because we need a stronger theory and legitimation in order to gain wide popular support.

2) We have Basic Income supporters without and with political preferences. Some politicians still support BI idea as his policy, especially at the local level. Academics and activist social movements still support the BI idea so we will try to link personalities, individuals, and groups who support BI. 

Korea’s basic income movement, beginning with the 2007 presidential election pledges from the socialist party, has become widespread within just 15 years. According to Kanta Korea Research Company, 38.6 percent of the respondents said they were in favor of basic income, 52.3 percent did not know and 9 percent didn’t answer. 1,012 men and women aged 18 or older nationwide were targeted (Seoul Economy, Feb. 20, 2020).

The BIEN congress will be held again in Korea on Aug 24th-26th, 2023. The title is “Basic Income in Reality.” I expect the Basic Income Party to gain wide popularity in 17 cities with 19 candidates at the local election and the 2023 Korea BIEN Congress to draw attention worldwide so that it can lead a great success in the general election for Basic Income implementation.

Local elections will be held on June 1, in two weeks. Can the Democratic Party promote the universal basic income of the entire nation as a pledge in local elections? 

Since Lee Jae Myoung is running for the MP, Lee’s election camp says ‘this is whether Lee ‘s life or death’ as former president Lee Myong bak was trying to kill Roh Moo-hyun, and he seems to be winning. But he doesn’t talk about BI in his pledges during the democratic party’s local elections as well. But the Basic Income Party does out front, promoting basic income in all cities with a UBI of $78 a month. 

Where will Koreans raise their hands again, when Yoon Seok-youl refuses to work at Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House) given by them, but they started to work in Yongsan District all of sudden due to his private beliefs? 

Lee Jae-myung’s basic income pledge was as follows below in the presidential election:

  • Universal basic income for all citizens
  • After the public debate of the Presidential Basic Income Committee, it will be implemented by collecting public opinion.
  • Starting at 250,000₩ ($205) a year. A goal of 1,000,000₩ ($820) per year within the term by 2027
  • Land profit dividends and carbon dividends
  • Basic income is paid in local currency
  • Basic income and allowances by target
  • Basic income of 1 million₩ ($820) per year to young people aged 19-29 from 2023
  • Expanding the scope of child and youth allowances (step-by-step expansion, until the age of 18 in 2027)
  • Payment of seniority allowance

Written by: Mok Hwakyun (Moka)

Ukraine’s Basic Income: an antidote to war

Ukraine’s Basic Income: an antidote to war

The idea of Basic Income is catching on around the world as it is getting more and more support, especially after cash payments many countries paid during the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. 

A Basic Income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without a means-test or work requirement. This is the first phrase you can see when you open BIEN’s website. So where should states get money for it? For example, from natural resources, as Alaska Permanent Fund does, and from taxes including a tax on robots, carbon tax, as well as a tax on cryptocurrencies, etc. The view that the state should supplement the income of the poor has a long history. For example, one way to increase the incomes of the poor proposed by Milton Friedman is a negative income tax. The idea is quite simple: richer people pay taxes and poorer ones get some percentage of this. 

Ukrainians receive financial aid in the amount of 6500 hryvnias (just over US$200) under the program “ePidtrymka” for loss of part of wages (income), work (economic activity), which are temporarily stopped because of military actions during the current military struggle in Ukraine. It’s just a one-time payment with several strict conditions, including a territorial one. The deadline for submitting applications was March 31, 2022. So, what should other people do after April 1? Why shouldn’t children, women, single parents, young people, the disabled, and the unemployed be taken care of? Every Ukrainian needs to be paid because of the economic collapse and losses of income.

But is $200 enough to help someone who lost a family, home, or job? Is $200 enough to help anyone start life over in Europe or in an almost destroyed country? If this person is gravely ill? What about mental health, which was destroyed, of children, women, and youth? Every Ukrainian needs to be paid at least 500 Euros every month at best for the war’s duration until normal life is fully restored. I believe these brave people deserve more! Ukrainian people should be rewarded with UBI forever. This will be the greatest social experiment in history as well as a clear example for other countries and peoples.

Not only thousands of Ukrainians but also thousands of Russians are dying because of the actions of the Russian authorities. Let’s remember the dramatic events in Bucha, Ukraine, and in other cities. The Ukrainian government suspects soldiers from Khabarovsk, Buryatia, the Far East, and others of committing crimes. These are depressed regions with low incomes and high unemployment, despite their vast territories and natural resources. Residents have little choice: either to serve in the army and security services or to migrate to richer regions of the country. So, these hungry soldiers saw that people in Bucha were living their normal comfortable life. Maybe that’s why they were so cruel? Of course, it’s hard for me to reflect on why they acted like animals. But I strongly believe that they wouldn’t invade another country if they were receiving a basic income.

The situation is similar in other Russian regions like Tuva, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, Altai, Jewish Autonomous Region. That doesn’t mean that in other regions the situation is better. Maybe just a little. Official statistics (according to the “new methodology”) indicate that there were more than 16 million people below the poverty line at the end of 2021 in Russia. According to the old methodology, there were more than 20 million people in need. Official Russian statistics are underestimated by two to three times, according to the experts. Anyway, what will happen to Russians after the war and devastating economic sanctions? Of course, I’m not making a comparison between “lost a job” and “lost a life”. However, in my opinion, very few people would participate in an unjust war if they had a basic income and a stable and prosperous life. Therefore, Russians also need a basic income. People would be critical of the propaganda if they have more opportunities.

Ukraine is a brave country that is fighting against Russia’s military intervention and is protecting the entire world from danger. Of course, the other countries support Ukraine. Ukrainians need to be paid basic income. I may repeat it forever. Basic Income has the potential to eliminate the need for war, and that’s why it is important to raise awareness of what Basic Income can do. Ukrainians need to live their calm normal life instead of hiding in their basements as they do right now. Millions of people were forced to flee Ukraine, many had to bury their children or parents in the yards. Nobody knows their feelings. I hope that nobody will ever do that again. 

The war has affected the entire global community. Does the world forget the Chernobyl accident in 1986? Doesn’t the world read or hear about Russian soldiers in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant? Quoting a CNN report, “Although Chernobyl is not an active power plant, the sarcophagus above the reactor that exploded nearly 36 years ago needs to be maintained to avoid further radiation leaks. There is also a considerable amount of spent nuclear fuel that needs to be looked after”.

These miserable soldiers were ordered to dig trenches in that area, which is particularly radioactive. This zone right now is under the control of Ukrainian soldiers, but Russian soldiers may come back. This may be a bigger ecological problem than CO2 emissions for the whole world. What about the threat of Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons? Why do people worry about CO2 while so many people keep dying right now: young, old, children, men, and women? What could happen to the world after nuclear weapons are used? 

Ukraine is a strong country. We are proud as well as terribly sorry about all the events that happen there. Crying and praying for it to end soon, to stop people’s unfair death. This is the whole world’s inexcusable mistake. We could have avoided so many deaths if a Basic Income had been introduced to the world. UBI will reduce humanity’s aggression and destroy the economic, political, and psychological causes of war.

Instability in the world is increasing. Food, gasoline, gas, and service prices are increasing all over the world, including in Africa and Asia. I know that heating prices are high right now in Europe. Soon it will be summer, but later fall and winter will come. The whole planet suffers from Russian military action in the center of Europe and is terrified at the thought of a world nuclear war. We should think about basic income today. No, that’s not right. We should have thought about it yesterday before these disasters. The 99% shouldn’t suffer from the decisions of the 1%. People need to be more independent from the government. 

Article by: Irina Soloveva, Jr.

Singapore needs a basic income

Singapore needs a basic income

Which country in the world arguably needs a Basic Income most? 

Singapore, because she has the highest reserves per capita in the world, is in the top five for per capita income in the world, the fifth most expensive city in the world (The Economist) – and yet Singapore has no minimum wage, the greatest inequality amongst developed countries (Gini coefficient before government transfers), the biggest wage gap between the top and bottom percentiles, the lowest social welfare spending among developed countries, most expensive public housing in the world (price to income ratio), highest national pension contribution rates in the world (typically up to 37 percent of income), one of the most expensive electricity, water, public transport, public universities’ tuition fees, etc, in the world.

In addition to the above, Singapore has a unique fiscal policy (from a cash flow perspective) of limited spending on the nation’s pension scheme, public housing, and healthcare. However, the annual inflows exceed the outflows in each of these three areas, currently and historically.

Some recent statistics (April 2022) demonstrate that 10 percent of households cannot pay their water bills (media reports), and 10 percent of households do not have enough money to eat nutritionally (2019 pre-Covid-19, SMU-Lien Foundation Hunger Report 2019), etc.

So, perhaps in the final analysis – without Basic Income – many Singaporeans may have to continue to struggle to make ends meet. At the same time, Singapore has one of the highest per-capita suicide rates in the world, in spite of it being a criminal offense to attempt to try to kill oneself!

Singapore’s Reserves are estimated to be $1.97 trillion. If this is the case, perhaps it is time Singapore considers a basic income and shares this wealth with the people.

Written by: Leong Sze Hian

Poem: Turn on the tap

Poem: Turn on the tap

14.5 million living in poverty

in the world’s fifth largest economy

until a global pandemic forced our chancellor

to spend £69 billion on a word

none of us had ever heard of.

Furlough showed universal basic income to be

a fundable possibility, at £67 billion net cost

paid for through reduced corporate tax breaks

and subsidies. Just 3.4 percent of GDP 

to make absolute poverty extinct.

When the first unconditional money

hit mum’s bank account she cried

with eyes that could now see a future.

But trusting it took time. You’re not supposed to eat

normally just after a fast or you’ll be sick. 

So we let relief drip into our days. 

First in seconds, dancing round the kitchen

feeding shopping into starved cupboards

now bulging till their doors wouldn’t shut.

Then in minutes, a river that brought mum 

home two full days a week. She began 

helping me with my homework.

Grades went up. A well fed mind imagined

going to university, freed from the urgent need 

to leave school early and start earning.

Knocks on the door brought not fear

but friends. Neighbours came to chat,

share ideas, our street hadn’t felt this alive

in years! Revitalised by breathing in 

something other than stress and anxiety.

Minds to the right: tick

for smaller, simpler government; tick

for healthcare appointments reduced

8% by better physical and mental health; tick

for greater purchasing power from the ground up.

Minds to the left: tick

for greater community engagement; tick

for people secure enough to believe in a future; tick

for human ingenuity previously capped 

by the poverty trap freed to help create

a society no longer chained to poor

wages for sourcing, making, selling poor

quality goods that return to poor

countries forced to burn, bury, breathe poor 

quality air. Instead, the choice to say no

from a new sense of security, dignity, universality 

we can do better. 

Harula Ladd