The idea of societies having a basic income has been gaining momentum for the past several years. Currently, there are several pilot projects of varying sizes going on around the world. Some of them in places you might not expect. Today, I’d like to walk you through some of the most interesting basic income pilots currently underway, and a couple that are still in the planning stages.
The Finland Basic Income Experiment
In December of 2016, Finland’s national government authorized a two year, basic income pilot project, giving benefits to 2,000 random people currently on unemployment benefits. The basic income is relatively small—€560, only €36 more than the standard benefits—but comes with no strings attached, allowing recipients to take short term contracts or part time work without losing their benefits.
There are some flaws with the program: the small sample size, short time period, and the portion of the population chosen. But it’s an excellent first step towards basic income, and researchers are already pushing for the population sample to be expanded. You can learn more about the Finland experiment here.
Uganda Basic Income Pilot
Non-profit organization, Eight, began a basic income project of their own in January 2017. They offered 50 families in a village in Uganda a basic income of €8 per week for two years. Experts have estimated €8 per week is a living wage for two adults and two children in Uganda. It is also where the non-profit organization got its name. Families can choose to do anything they want with this money.
Eight will be working in co-operation with anthropologists from the University of Ghent and development economists from the University of Wageington. Together, they will study the effects of this basic income. They are also creating a documentary about this basic income project, with the hopes of raising enough funds to provide basic income on a national scale. You can find out more about Eight, including how to support them, here.
GiveDirectly Kenya Trial
GiveDirectly is another non-profit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty. In 2016 they announced they will be holding the largest basic income trial the world has ever seen. This trial features four different groups:
- Long term: In 40 villages, the adults will receive a small($0.75 per day) wage, paid monthly for 12 years.
- Short term: In 80 villages, adults will receive the same monthly payments as the first group, but only for 2 years.
- Lump sum payments: Lump sum payments will be delivered to the adults living in 80 villages. These payments will be equivalent to the total given to those in the short term group.
- Control group: 100 villages that receive no payment whatsoever will be tracked to ensure the accuracy of corresponding research.
As the largest basic income project ever planned, the implications of the data gained could be enormous—and might be what we need to bring basic income to life on a global scale (although I’d love to see it in place before the long term group reaches their last payment).
Ontario Basic Income Pilot
In April 2017, Ontario will announce its plan for the largest basic income pilot project to date that is run by a government. Community consultations are still being held around the province, but experts have suggested a basic income of $1,320 for a single person. That amount is about 75% of the poverty line. The program will provide a basic income for three years to all adults between 18 and 65. The recipients all live in a single community (the location will be announced in April). Unfortunately at this point it’s hard to analyze how effective this pilot project will be at encouraging governments to adopt basic income on a larger scale.
What it all Means
Each one of these projects has its flaws—the size, how the population sample is chosen, the fact that the basic income money doesn’t actually put people above the poverty line—but together they will produce an unprecedented amount of data on the benefits of basic income. More importantly, they show that governments and organizations all over the world are open to the idea of a basic income. Several are already actively standing behind the concept.
But what does it mean on a personal level? Well, unless you happen to live in a community chosen for one of these pilot projects (or another one that didn’t make the list), it’s not going to have a major impact on your current life.
What it does mean is that there has never been a better time to fight for basic income. Call your government representatives, write letters to the editors of local or even national newspapers, and make it clear that you believe we all deserve a basic income. Donate even $5 to GiveDirectly or Eight.
I’ll be up here in Canada, fighting the good fight with you.
Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing. She also blogs about books, creativity and life.
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