Universal basic income (UBI) is a simple idea: give people a small amount of money so they can at least survive. This isn’t a radical idea yet it keeps getting blocked by governments who despise….government. The argument for UBI keeps growing as more and more studies point out that it greatly improves recipient’s mental wellbeing and their employment opportunities. What’s more is that supporting people before they need to access welfare programs governments save money.
This is what California found in their recent UBI study.
Here in Ontario we started a basic income research study which was swiftly cut by the Conservative government. Hopefully smarter governments who actually work for people will pick up where Ontario failed and California found success.
Mental and physical well-being improved, with reductions in depression and anxiety recorded. Households were able to avoid or limit their exposure to financial ups and downs often experienced by low-income families, especially in the event of unexpected costs.
SEED found that those in the UBI trial “experienced clinically and statistically significant improvements in their mental health … moving from likely having a mild mental health disorder to likely mental wellness over the year-long intervention”.
But one of the most potentially significant findings was that people in receipt of the $500 UBI payments were more likely to find full-time employment.
At the start of the project, in February 2019, 28% of the UBI recipients were in full-time work. That had risen to 40% a year later. The SEED trial included a control group, not in receipt of the payments. In that control group, full-time employment increased by 5% over the same period.