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The Universal Basic Income Is The Safety Net Of The Future

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Imagine getting a check from the government every month. $600 guaranteed. It’s happening in Finland, where a pilot program is being launched to test what’s known as a “universal basic income.” As technology transforms the workplace, jobs and income will become less reliable. The idea is that a universal basic income could serve as a tool to combat poverty and uncertainty in a changing society, and provide a cushion that empowers workers, giving them latitude to take risks in the job market. But some argue a guaranteed income would take away the incentive to work, waste money on those who don’t need it, and come at the expense of effective programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Is the universal basic income the safety net of the future?


Basic income challenges our notions of the social safety net, the relationship between work and income, and how to adapt to technological change. That makes it one of the most audacious social policy experiments in modern history.

Monday, April 25, 2016
Andrew Flowers

The Government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is testing a guaranteed basic income in Finland during 2017 and 2018. A working group of researchers from a range of organizations under the project leadership of Kela explored ways in which to carry out the basic income experiment. This page collects information and data on the project.


Both left and right are promoting the idea of a basic wage for everyone, currently on trial, as a solution to the new world of work.

Sunday, February 19, 2017
Sonia Sodha

GiveDirectly is working with leading economists to organize an ambitious experiment that will rigorously test the impact of different models of basic income over 12 years in Kenya.

Give Directly

As automation reduces the need for human labor, some Silicon Valley executives think a universal income will be the answer — and the beta test is happening in Kenya.

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Annie Lowrey

YC Research blog post on why they’re funding a study on basic income.  Watch a video in a separate post discussing the project.  

Sam Altman

Swiss voters on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to guarantee an income to Switzerland’s residents, whether or not they are employed, an idea that has also been raised in other countries amid an intensifying debate over wealth disparities and dwindling employment opportunities.

Sunday, June 5, 2016
Raphael Minder

It may seem folly in a country home to over a quarter of the world’s truly poor to give people money for nothing. But it would be a swift, efficient way to make it home to far fewer of them.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend program has attracted considerable interest because it is a unique example of a BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE. This paper describes the structure of the dividend program, its economic effects, some of its unintended consequences

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Scott Goldsmith

We’re launching a pilot project to see if giving people a basic income can be a simpler and more effective way to provide security, support people living on low incomes and reduce poverty.

Pro-UBI Groups

Founded in 1986, the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) aims to serve as a link between individuals and groups committed to, or interested in, basic income (i.e. a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement) and to foster informed discussion on this topic throughout Europe.

The Economic Security Project is a two year fund to support exploration and experimentation with unconditional cash stipends. We are funding projects like academic research, state and local basic income campaigns, and cultural projects around economic security. 

Natalie Foster, Chris Hughes, Dorian Warren, Co-Chairs

Answers to a poll on UBI commissioned by the Economic Security Project.

Monday, December 19, 2016
Misha Chellam

The case for a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) as a replacement for the current welfare state.

Monday, August 4, 2014
Matt Zwolinski

Creating a wage floor is an effective way to fight poverty—and it would reduce government spending and intrusion.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Noah Gordon

When three, separate arguments lead to the same conclusion, perhaps universal basic income is an idea whose time has come.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Shanta Devarajan

A UBI would only entrench our misconceptions about the relationship between the individual and the state.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Oren Cass

At first blush, universal basic income (UBI) seems a very attractive idea, especially to a progressive.  Yet it suffers from two serious problems.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Robert Greenstein

Like good fiction, the way to read the UBI is not as a real proposal, but as a message about something else: our existing system. But the implicit critique of the existing system underlying UBI advocacy is not well-founded.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Matt Sawicky

Charles Murray and Andy Stern discussed the concept of a Universal Basic Income, or a cash payment granted to every citizen without any requirements or restrictions as an alternative to welfare.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016