Within the last couple years, basic income — a scheme in which citizens receive regular payments to cover basic living costs — has touched nearly all corners of the world.
Experiments from Kenya to the Netherlands to California are poised to reveal in 2017 what happens when governments and private organizations give people money for nothing: Do people work less? Do they escape poverty? How many sit and do nothing?
Here are the experiments leading that charge.
In October of 2016, GiveDirectly, a charity best known for its cash transfer programs, launched a pilot version of what will become the largest basic income experiment in history.
Beginning early 2017, 40 villages will receive roughly $22.50 per month for 12 years. Meanwhile, 80 villages will get the same amount for just two years, another 80 will get a lump sum equal to the two-year amount, and 100 villages will get no money.
It’ll produce some of the most comprehensive basic income data yet.
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A two-year experiment launched on New Year’s Day in Finland.
Kela, the country’s federal economic agency, is giving 2,000 unemployed citizens approximately $600 a month.
The goal will be twofold: to measure how basic income could provide new structure for social security and to see how people’s productivity levels change when they receive the guaranteed stipend.
Silicon Valley’s largest startup accelerator, Y Combinator, announced in mid-2016 it would soon begin paying out monthly salaries between $1,000 and $2,000 a month to 100 families in Oakland.
In the true spirit of basic income, the families range in socioeconomic status and come with no requirement to stay in the US.
If the pilot is a success, a five-year trial will follow.
Utrecht, the Netherlands
Tentatively slated for early 2017, the basic income experiment in Utrecht will last for two years and involve 250 Dutch citizens on government assistance receiving about $1,100 per month.
There are six groups each receiving varying amounts paid out according to different work requirements.
One group, for example, gets an extra $161 at the month’s end if they do volunteer work. Another gets the money up front but must give it back if they don’t volunteer.
Slated for spring of 2017, the Ontario basic income experiment has set aside roughly $19 million to replicate the 1970s experiment in Manitoba — known as the Mincome Experiment.
Ontario Works, the jobs department of the provincial government, is asking for the public to weigh in on an online survey.
The survey includes projected payment amounts, provisions, and general questions about interest in basic income.
India’s government is moving closer to launching a follow-up basic income experiment to the two 2010 experiments in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in which more than 6,000 people received small monthly payments for 18 months.
In October 2016, India’s highest-ranking economist announced basic income will play a major role in the next Economic Survey, an annual document presented to parliament in January.
Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, has expressed optimism that basic income will take hold soon in the second-most-populous country.
Filippo Nogarin, mayor of the Italian city Livorno, began giving 100 people in his coastal city of 150,000 a monthly income of $537. In 2017, he’s expanding it to 100 more.
The pilot will be small in scope, lasting just six months, but Nogarin has said the system helps people get back on their feet without the state presuming to know what’s best for people.
Following the mayor’s lead, other Italian towns such as Ragusa and Naples are considering pilots of their own.
Starting this year, the nonprofit Eight will begin handing out a weekly basic income of $8.60 (eight euros, as per the organization’s name) to 50 households in a village in the Fort Portal region of Uganda.
The trial will last for two years and be the subject of a related documentary called “Village One,” Kate McFarland of BIEN reports.