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:
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 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 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 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 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 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
This past week, Finland released the final results from its two-year “basic income” experiment. The program produced a modest increase in working days among basic income recipients and noticeable improvements in perceived happiness and healthiness.
Is this a surprise? When governments give people cash assistance, of course, their lives will improve. And with financial stress alleviated, these recipients will still find productive uses for their time.
Simply imagine the unearned suffering billions of people could have been spared if governments had implemented basic income prior to the pandemic and global economic depression.
Basic income skeptics should consider which system failed when confronted with the current avalanche of suicide, descent into addiction, and hungry mouth these twin crises have created. But according to the government’s standard, Finland’s basic income experiment still “failed” because recipients only increased their working days by a week or so.
Let that sink in. Despite proof that the program improved basic income recipients’ physical and mental well-being, it was deemed a failure because it did not fix every aspect of the labor market in two years. Recipients worked more, but that apparently still was not enough.
Maybe the standard by which success is judged is, therefore, the true failure.
Our current situation shows us that the government was dead set on keeping us in jobs at all costs. And the natural result of that obsession to “preserve work” is that governments are now bailing out corporations instead of their people.
Of course, well-connected businesses like airlines are bailed out first (and multiple times) as average people languish on the edge of financial ruin. Meanwhile, complicated schemes in the United States like the “Paycheck Protection Program” are designed to create the impression of modest job loss, since employees are kept tacked to their employer by way of payroll. But these “jobs saved” are meaningless insofar as many small businesses will immediately shutter from falling demand whenever the program ends. Many are zombie employers, animated by governments’ obsession with “jobs” over human wellbeing.
Even increasing unemployment benefits with a $600 bonus has been a nightmare, having never gone to many informal workers like caregivers and mothers in the first place. The unemployed will now make every effort possible not to return to work. Unlike with basic income, where the payment is available unconditionally, people will lose their leisure time and $600 unemployment bonus when they accept their next job.
Unemployment payments are also being used to threaten employees to return to work before the pandemic is even under control. In Iowa, the governor said unemployment recipients will be thrown off unemployment assistance if they do not return to work when lockdowns are eased: even if their workplaces are still hotspots for COVID. This means even more lives will be sacrificed on the altar of “increasing work” and “saving jobs.”
In contrast, basic income would empower people to make an informed decision whether it is safe to return to work without the loaded gun of economic self-destruction being held to their head. Governments should pay people directly instead of paying their employers. If they did, employers would have to meet the safety and pay standards of the people they hope to woo back into work
Almost a year ago, I wrote that the era of “experimenting” with basic income to determine whether it causes “laziness” should end. This question is more often than not asked in bad faith by opponents of basic income, who ignore overwhelming evidence that it generally increases the number of hours recipients work: even leaving aside the productivity gains in those work hours, as people are given more freedom to choose how their labor is allocated.
When the article was written, Canada cancelled its basic income experiment and Finland released its first year of results. These experiments were deemed failures at the time. But the absurdity of that belief is clearer than ever before.
We stand at the abyss, with the highest unemployment rates and deepest recession of our lifetimes on the horizon. And yet governments have doubled down on putting “jobs,” narrowly defined as roles serving corporate interests, over our wellbeing. This paradigm, by supercharging the economic fallout of the pandemic and forcing people back to work without safety rails in place, defies all logic.
Basic income never failed us. Our “jobs” did.
By Tyler Prochazka and James Davis
Finland’s Basic Income Experiment was the world’s first statutory, nationwide and randomized basic income experiment. That experiment, in which preliminary results have already been reported on, several research questions were asked: How did the Basic Income Experiment affect participants’ employment? What were the effects on health, livelihoods and experiences of government bureaucracy? In interviews, how do the participants perceive the significance of the experiment in their lives?
The final results of the basic income experiment will be released on Wednesday, May 6th 2020, online. In this webcast, researchers present findings of the basic income experiment on employment and well-being of the participants.
The results presented are based on an analysis register data from both pilot years as well as on face-to-face interviews with the participants in the experiment. In addition, survey data has been analyzed more comprehensively than before.
The webcast will be held, in Finnish, from 1 pm to 2:15 pm and, in English, from 2:20 pm to 3:00 pm (Finnish time, GMT+3). The webcast is open to anyone interested.
Kela Conference 2019 will occur on the 10th December 2019, between 9.00 and 16.30h, at Kela’s Main office building in Helsinki. It will be a gathering of experts on social protection, and will include four main themes – Investing in the future, Reforming social security, Customer services in the globalizing and diversifying world and Customer experience by digital transformation.
The main idea behind the Conference is to think about a social security system for Finland which can face the challenges of the present and future in a sustainable way. Issues with delivering wellbeing and usage of artificial intelligence to distributing benefits are important aspects to consider in an ever-increasing globalized and diverse social world.
Signing up for the event can be done here, up until the 3rd of December 2019. Keynotes can be watched online (streamed), without registration.
More information at:
Kela Conference 2019 webpage
Johanna Perkiö, Doctoral Candidate, University of Tampere
A recent article on the Finnish basic income experiment has demonstrated how ‘framing’ the benefits of basic income in specific ways can make it acceptable to a wide political spectrum.
University of Tampere researcher Johanna Perkio has recently published an article examining how basic income has been perceived in Finnish political circle since the 1980s. Analysing party programmes and election manifestos, parliamentary motions and debates, and questions to ministers, she concludes that its take up within the current neo-liberal climate has been facilitated by seeing basic income as a way of dealing with economic problems of work and incentivisation.
Earlier debates, in the 1980s, emphasised notions of equal rights and fairness in employment. As more monetarist economic views began to dominate political thinking, basic income started being seen in terms of how it might incentivise the unemployed to find work. This was particularly true within political parties who were hesitant about supporting basic income.
Perkio also notes that the preliminary results from the Finnish experiment – which indicated that basic income led to increased well being amongst the recipients but did not necessarily help them find work – may mean that supporters of basic income need another frame to justify their support.
A blog post summarising the article is available online. The article itself is published by the Journal of Social Policy.