The rough premise of a basic income (BI) involves distributing small cash stipends to people, with no restrictions on how it can be spent. While some economists dismiss BI as inefficient and expensive, evidence shows it has real benefits.
Recent experiments—in places as far flung as Stockton, California, and Kenya—tout BI as a way to expand affordable housing, reduce depression, and even be an effective way to deliver slavery reparations.
In Berlin, a crowdfunded basic income program is also showing the positive implications of awarding cash stipends to people. The program, which is called Mein Grundeinkommen (“My Basic Income”), is in the process of awarding nearly 500 basic incomes by the end of the year. The process works like a raffle; any person anywhere in the world, for no fee at all, can register to receive €1000 (about $1,100) per month for a year, serving as a sort of “reset button for people in the middle of their life.”
According to thorough surveys of 43 Mein Grundeinkommen winners thus far, the basic income is leading to far-reaching changes in their life. About half (47%) say the basic income has helped them reimagine their work as a contribution to society, and even greater majorities say it’s made them less anxious (80%), and more energetic (81%), courageous (80%), and curious (60%). Though only four surveyed winners either changed or quit their jobs, more than half say that the basic income allowed them to continue their education, and 35% say they’ve since become more “motivated” at work.
Although it is too early to say whether basic income should become a part of society’s economic model in the future, it is research like this that is gathering the necessary data for us to come to a conclusion.