Updated: Oct 18, 2020
There is a heavy burden that accompanies the low income of an individual or family as a result of systemic barriers. Globalization, industrialization, employment biases, and similar inadvertent causes of poverty make it near impossible for many to achieve a decent standard of living and escape the cyclical trap of financial insecurity. In the search to discover and implement solutions to tackle this, the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) was developed and Basic Income (BI) programs have been temporarily implemented in a number of countries as test trials; the results seem promising.
In Kenya resides the largest and longest BI experiment. Beginning in 2016, the GiveDirectly charity has been conducting a randomized-controlled trial across the 295 rural villages, whose members were assigned to four groups. In the first group is their longest trial in which they make monthly payments of 75 cents per adult per day to 4 villages (over 4,000 people) to be delivered in the span of 12 years. According to their findings for 2019: “transfers improved well-being on measures such as hunger, sickness and depression”.
Some of the same results can be found in North America where between 1968 and 1974, the United States conducted an experiment in which they gave money to approximately 7,500 people across Indiana, North Carolina, Seattle, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Denver. This basic income proved to be beneficial in increasing their standard of living despite it resulting in a decrease in the hours the participants worked.
This correlation is not necessarily negative. Rebecca Hasdell of the Stanford Basic Income Lab repor
ts, “When reductions do occur, time is channeled into other valued activities such as caregiving”. As a result of BI, members of the working class who previously could not allocate time towards other pursuits found themselves able to do so, creating more holistic individuals.
Similar evidence and results in Mexico, Italy, Uganda, Canada, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Iran, Namibia, and other countries that have implemented small-scale Basic Income programs suggests that a pragmatic approach to Universal Basic Income could be an effective solvency for both abject poverty and financial insecurity.