What is UBI ?

What is UBI?

Universal BasIc Income. All three words are important. Universal – available to everyone.  No qualifying or disqualifying factors. Basic – —Enough to live on, either on its own or with another income source. Income – it’s money.

Different groups have different definitions of how much money it provides: some say it should provide a sufficiently generous cash benefit to live on, without other earnings; others say it disburses cash benefits, without making commitments about whether by itself it provides enough to live on. All groups agree that it provides the same benefit to everyone, no matter what their other income is. That is, it is not means-tested.

What is Guaranteed Minimum Income ?

Guaranteed Minimum Income raises households’ private income to a pre-determined income threshold. This means that for each additional dollar of earnings, the minimum income cash benefit would be reduced. Unlike UBI, it is means-tested, and so different people receive different benefits, and many receive no benefit.

What is a UBI pilot ?

Unlike a full UBI program, pilots are typically targeted at specific groups. In addition to having the goal of helping the recipients in the pilot, they often also have goals to monitor the ways in which UBI does or does not help people. For example, a pilot could be used to test the hypothesis that children would be more likely to obtain higher levels of education if the family receives UBI ?

Are there any UBI pilots in the US right now ?

Yes. For example, Stockton CA has been running a pilot since 2018 paying $500 a month to 125 low-income residents. And in Washington DC, there is a privately-funded program paying $1,100 to 300 household for 5 months

Where can I learn more ?

There are two very informative reports: in 2018 the Washington DC Council produced a report about Approaches and Strategies for Providing a Minimum Income in the District of Columbia, and in 2019 the National Bureau of Economic Research produced a report about Universal Basic Income In The US And Advanced Countries.

You can read more about UBI at the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, and at the UBI Lab Network.