Universal basic income (UBI) — a system in which a population is given a set amount of money, unconditionally — is rapidly becoming a topic of increased interest across the world. Proponents expect such a system to reduce poverty and improve the economy, and now, according to some re-examined data, there may be a link between increased physical and mental health and the financial security that results from a UBI system.
For four years, in the small Canadian town of Dauphin, residents making less than $13,800 annually were given $4,800 per year to supplement their income. During this time, the population saw a decline in the number of mental health-related visits to the doctor and fewer hospital admissions due to “accident and injury,” as well as few mental health diagnoses in general. These findings were also corroborated by a similar program implemented nearly two decades later on Cherokee land in the United States.
Even more so than outsourcing, innovation in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence is a major threat to the working-class families of the world. Experts say that not only is a UBI system necessary, it is also inevitable. As machines become cheaper and better suited for a wider variety of jobs, these low-skill workers will have increasingly fewer options to earn a living.
UBI pilot programs are being planned in Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, and even Uganda, but there is no uniformity in how these plans would be implemented. Some may opt for income restrictions, while others for truly universal implementation. However they are structured, freeing up individuals from the burden and stress of financial instability not only seems likely to make them healthier, it could lead to a spark in creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation as well.