FEATURE22 January 2020

Income for everyone

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Giving citizens money for free is an idea that can be explored from many angles. Behavioural economists are researching the concept among different income brackets, as Jane Bainbridge reports.

Money 3_crop

The idea of universal basic income (UBI) has been gaining attention of late.

Approached from various political directions – whether based on an idea of fairness, eradicating poverty, or with one eye to a future where automation means fewer jobs for people – the concept of giving people free cash is being explored in several experiments and pilot projects.

It was also the topic of a session at last year’s Behavioural Exchange conference, BX2019, run by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) – What happens when you give people money for free? – where academics from around the world talked about their research.

Finland: more life satisfaction

Finland’s pilot of UBI is probably the one that has garnered the most headlines – although it’s not strictly UBI, as the trial only involved the unemployed. Markus Kanerva, a behavioural change consultant for the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, explained that the study was partly motivated by Finland’s benefits system.

“Social security is currently ...