A universal basic income (UBI) or simply basic income is a social program in which all citizens of a population regularly receive a sum of money from the government. A pure or unconditional basic income has no means test, much like Social Security in the United States. Basic income can be implemented nationally, regionally or locally. The idea gained attention in recent years because people fear that technology will make many jobs obsolete in the future.
The idea has never been put in place by any country yet, but there have been some experimental trials.
In a 2016 survey, 64% of Europeans voted for an UBI.
An UBI is an income for everyone. There would be neither a social administrative means test nor a requirement of willingness to work. On the other hand, tax- and contribution-financed social benefits like unemployment benefit, social assistance or child benefit would no longer apply.
The incomes would be:
- Unconditional: The sum of an UBI could vary with age, but with no other conditions. Everyone of the same age would receive the same income. Regardless of their gender, employment status, family structure, contribution to society, housing costs, or anything else.
- Automatic: The basic income of a person would be automatically paid weekly or monthly into a bank account or similar.
- Non-withdrawable: Basic incomes would not be means-tested. Their basic income will not change. Also when earnings increase or decrease.
- Individual: Basic incomes would be paid on an individual basis. Not on the basis of a couple or household.
- A right: Every legal resident would receive a basic income, subject to a minimum period of legal residency and continuing residency and continuing residency for most of the year.
In 1984, the Basic Income Research Group began researching on basic income.
Reasons and argumentsEdit
One of the most popular reasons for an UBI is that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will make many jobs obsolete in the near future. However, people still have to get enough money to live, even when there is no work for them anymore. An UBI could be a good solution for this problem.
Better working conditionsEdit
Advocates of UBI say that with basic income, unattractive jobs would have to be better paid and their working conditions improved. This is because there is still a need for people who do this kind of work. And if they already get enough money from UBI, there has to be an incentive for doing these jobs.
Some people also think that an UBI could make society more creative because people would no longer have the pressure to work. For example, people would have more time to educate themselves or find things they are interested in.
Some believe that an UBI will increase the willingness to take risks because everyone would be financially secure to some degree. This would promote a culture of ingenuity and increase the spirit of invention.
- Elon Musk, American entrepreneur
- Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
- Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Meta
- Chris Hughes, co-founder of Meta
- Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter
- Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay
- Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
- S. Robson Walton, former Chairman of Walmart
- Ray Kurzweil, American inventor and futurist
- Stephen Hawking, British theoretical physicist
Pilot programs and experimentsEdit
Since the 1960s, there have been a number of basic income pilot programs and experiments. Some examples include:
- Experiments with negative income tax in United States and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s.
- The province of Manitoba, Canada experimented with Mincome, a basic guaranteed income, in the 1970s. In Dauphin, Manitoba, labor decreased by 13%. This was less than expected.
- The basic income grant in Namibia launched in 2008 and ended in 2009.
- An independent pilot implemented in São Paulo, Brazil launched in 2009.
- Basic income trials run in 2011-2012 in several villages in India. It was found that basic income in the region raised the education rate of young people by 25%.
- Iran introduced a national basic income program in autumn 2010. It is paid to all citizens and replaces the gasoline subsidies, electricity and some food products, that the country applied for years to reduce inequalities and poverty. The sum corresponded in 2012 to approximately US$40 per person per month, US$480 per year for a single person and US$2,300 for a family of five people.
- In Spain, the ingreso mínimo vital, the income guarantee system, is an economic benefit guaranteed by the social security in Spain, but in 2016 was considered in need of reform.
- The GiveDirectly experiment in a disadvantaged village of Nairobi, Kenya, the longest-running basic income pilot as of November 2017. It is set to run for 12 years.
- A project called Eight in a village in Fort Portal, Uganda that provides income for 56 adults and 88 children.
- A two-year pilot the Finnish government began in January 2017 which involved 2,000 subjects In April 2018, the Finnish government rejected a request for funds to extend and expand the program from Kela (Finland's social security agency).
- An experiment in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands, launched in early 2017, that is testing different rates of aid.
- A three-year basic income pilot that the Ontario provincial government, Canada, launched in the cities of Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Lindsay in July 2017. However, it was only made available to people with a low income and funding would be removed if they obtained employment. This made it more related to the current welfare system than true basic income. The pilot project was canceled on 31 July 2018 by the Progressive Conservative government under Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
- In Israel in 2018, a non-profit initiative GoodDollar started a project. The goal was to build a global economic framework for providing universal basic income. The initiative aims to launch a peer-to-peer money transfer network. There, money can be distributed to those most in need and regardless of their location, based on the principles of UBI. The project raised US$1 million from eToro.
- The Rythu Bandhu scheme is a welfare scheme started in the state of Telangana, India, in May 2018. It was aimed at helping farmers. Each farm owner receives 4,000 INR per acre two times a year for rabi and kharif harvests. To finance the program, a budget allocation of 120 billion INR (US$1.6 million as of June 2020) was made in the 2018–2019 state budget.
- Social income started paying out basic incomes to people in need in Sierra Leone. The international initiative is financed by contributions from people world-wide. They donate 1% of their monthly paychecks.
- In May 2020 Spain introduced minimum basic income. This reached about 2% of the population. It is expected to cost state coffers three billion euros ($3.5 billion) a year."
- In August 2020, a project in Germany started that gives a 1,200 Euros monthly basic income in a lottery system to citizens who apply. The project will last three years and be compared against 1,380 people who do not receive basic income.
- In October 2020, HudsonUP was launched in Hudson, New York, by The Spark of Hudson and Humanity Forward Foundation. The aim is to give $500 monthly basic income to 25 residents. It will last five years and be compared against 50 people who are not receiving basic income.
- In May 2021 the government of Wales announced the trialling of a universal basic income scheme to "see whether the promises that basic income holds out are genuinely delivered".
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