A new RCT on guaranteed annual income

Via Ben Southwood, from David J. Price and Jae Song (pdf):

We investigate the long-term effect of cash assistance for beneficiaries and their children by following up, after four decades, with participants in the Seattle-Denver Income Maintenance Experiment. Treated families in this randomized experiment received thousands of dollars per year in extra government benefits for three or five years in the 1970s. Using administrative data from the Social Security Administration and the Washington State Department of Health, we find that treatment caused adults to earn an average of $1,800 less per year after the experiment ended. Most of this effect on earned income is concentrated between ages 50 and 60, suggesting that it is related to retirement. Treated adults were also 6.3 percentage points more likely to apply for disability benefits, but were not significantly more likely to receive them, or to have died. These effects on parents, however, do not appear to be passed down to their children: children in treated families experienced no significant effects in any of the main variables studied. These results for children are estimated precisely enough to rule out effects found in other contexts and inform the literature on intergenerational mobility. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that policymakers should consider the long-term effects of cash assistance as they formulate policies to combat poverty.

That’s basically a 40-year follow-up, which is nice to see.  These results should be taken seriously, but they are also a good illustration of the limits of RCTs for some policy questions.  In my recent piece, I argued UBI might be problematic for its interaction with immigration, politics, and the work ethic, all at the macro level.  You may or may not agree, but a smaller-scale RCT won’t pick up those effects.  It can be the case that a marginal move toward UBI makes sense for any small or mid-sized group, or for any particular in-kind benefit, without the full transformation necessarily being welfare-improving.

Here is a recent piece criticizing a guaranteed annual income.  Here is Arnold Kling, mostly defending the idea relative to alternatives.

Will Wilkinson, in his response, doubles down on macro-macro:

I have some misgivings about the method by which Tyler comes to his conclusion that a UBI “would do more harm than good.” It seems that he’s holding the status quo constant, adding a UBI, and then imagining what might happen. But isn’t this a confusing way to proceed? A world in which a UBI were politically feasible would be different in many other ways.

Do read the whole thing.


I've gone back and forth on what I think of a UBI so much that I might have given myself ideological whiplash.

I am very skeptical of experiments regarding a UBI, because I think a small population receiving a guaranteed income is likely to be very different from an entire population receiving one.

That said, I think that if our welfare system were incrementally more like a UBI it would be better. I'd rather see more cash payments and less social workers administering welfare.

One objection to the UBI is that it would be very expensive to pay everyone that much- but wouldn't you be taxing people to pay for it? I mean, you wouldn't really be giving a guy who makes six figures that money, or if you did, you'd claw it back. So you wouldn't be giving it to that guy, really, and I don't see why you would count that as an expense.

On the other hand, a UBI would make fraud more appealing. I can get my UBI, and work under the table, which is pretty cool if I'm in a certain bracket.

I think the best argument for a UBI is that it might replace welfare, and be easier to administer. I struggle to find advantages beyond that.

All the the so-called "problems" and "questions" about UBI - actual unconditional equal payments to citizens - are dwarfed by the "problems" and "questions" that arise when the cash flow is filtered down any kind of managerial hierarchy.

I'm not sure I know what you mean. Can you provide a concrete example?

Having a managerial hierarchy in the government dole out cash according to political influence, special interest status, favoritism, etc. will always be more problematic than simply mailing out equal unconditional payments to all citizens.

Ah, I see. I agree with you- I'm not sure about a UBI, but I'd like to see more cash payments, and less patronage.

On the other hand- do you think the layers of hierarchy making middle class incomes now are going to go down without a fight? Do you think that they would even lose that fight?

We can be high tech. Let's say that Instead of a credit card, you can just hand over a social security card to pay for groceries. Give it a weekly limit. Record the withdrawals, feed them into a proper one-click income tax system, and you are done.

The desperate can pay for groceries, and the bond traders get a tax bill.

I see it mostly the same way, but I've begun to worry that this won't quite do away with the net of social workers we now have. What about people who piss away every UBI check on day one, and then their kids are starving for the rest of the month? Do we have the stomach to just let it happen? (Maybe we solve that by constantly dripping $2/hour into their account?) In general, I've come to think that when you throw money at a problem, the problem eats your money, the system adjust to a new equilibrium, and the problem remains largely unchanged. Access to money addresses only a small subset of the problems that US social workers deal with. They see lots of cognitive disability cases, addiction cases, and many other kinds of downward spirals that a UBI won't fix and might even feed.

On the other hand, what bothers me most about the present US safety net is how much it saps the dignity of the people who use it: 6pm shelter curfews, alcohol prohibition, religious crapola and other infantilizations. Look, some people are just never going to be able to hack it in a job, and we as a society are rich enough to allow them to live with dignity and without our derision. As the robots rise up, this unemployable population will only grow. I can't think of a better solution than a UBI is that allows for a minimalist but dignified life. But yeah, it's a pretty flawed best solution.

The UBI is not a welfare program or a safety net. It's a citizen's dividend. It's not supposed to "solve poverty"

There's a reason why opponents always frame it in terms of welfare or poverty or a safety net. It's because its conception as a citizen's dividend is unassailable

FWIW I think the only reason to do a UBI is that sufficient jobs are unavailable, and this would become the most efficient universal welfare system. As I say, the desperate can buy groceries, the rich still pay tax.

A UBI should not support a full "lifestyle", just food, education, and a small apartment in a bad part of town.

If a UBI can't do that, no reason to do it.

I'm puzzled by your assertion that it is a "dividend". How far Left do you have to be to believe that taxes are a profit center?

How much of a Stalinist do you have to be to think that taxes should be monopolized by a government that can conscript you and send you to war?

It's a "dividend" in that the money comes out of the society the poor and the rich both work together to create. You know, "you didn't build that" etc. The poor are owed a share of society's wealth. The only way to prevent that natural conclusion is to insist the rich have done everything all by themselves despite the society in which they live (obviously untrue). That is why the right wing and its attendant intellectual infrastructure in the US exists. To try and legitimize the idea no one owes anything to anyone while still insisting we do actually owe wealthy people deference to their claimed ownership of private property.

We already stomach that. I lived in a poor neighborhood when I was a young man, and I saw some very unpleasant things there. Small naked children wandering the streets at 2 AM, their skin almost entirely covered in angry red patches. Each, I'm sure had a social worker assigned to their family (Bernie Sanders was, after all, mayor of that city.)

What do you do with welfare recipients who spend their entire check on beer and drugs the day they get it? Take their children away? No, we can't do that (though CPS will descend on a more normal family for reasons that cannot always be ascertained.) There are too many of them.

At least if you give them cash in place of food stamps they have twice the buying power (since food stamps go for about 50 cents on the dollar) and a bit of that extra buying power might, if you're very optimistic, go toward feeding their children.

Seems like the obvious thing to do is give them nutritious foodstuffs, rather than food stamps.

The reason for school feeding programs.

Re: Take their children away? No, we can’t do that

Um, then where do all the children in foster care come from? I doubt they are all literal orphans.

You are correct on the expense argument and I think that is often ignored by people calculating the "cost" of UBI. It would raise incomes but also raise taxes and just be a pass-through for the highest earners. However, you need to keep this in place to keep the marginal rates unaffected, which is a major selling point of UBI.

I don't understand your fraud argument. You mean that you would work under the table to avoid getting taxed on that income? That incentive already exists. It's greatest for those in the higher tax brackets as you suggest, but it's harder for those people to work "under the table" like housekeepers, gardeners, etc. High-income people shield their income via legal means.

This isn't guaranteed annual income, which is supposed to be paid out to all citizens. This "experiment" looked at welfare recipients who received extra welfare.

Guaranteed annual income is not welfare. You don't get it for being poor. You get it for being a member of the polity. It's a citizen's dividend in other words. This of course is why it's "problematic" with respect to immigration: shareholders don't like having their shares diluted. When every citizen starts getting dividend checks every month, the share dilution of immigration won't just be an abstraction, but a reality on paper with hard numbers mailed out every month to remind citizens. Tyler understands this and cites this as his "first worry" in his piece. He worries that implementing guaranteed annual income will make this share dilution which enriches a minority at the expense of the majority much more difficult.

It is welfare though, because the money has to come from somewhere. If I make 100k, get 10k as UBI, but pay 20k in taxes in order to support the UBI I would have to be pretty innumerate to think I was receiving income from the program.

The UBI should come from an asset tax on liquidation value at the risk free interest rate, not from an income tax. This means that the UBI would come from the network effect of wealth concentration (aka natural monopoly aka network externality, aka Reed’s Law aka, Metcalfe’s Law, etc.).

BWHAHAH. You have won the prize for the most idiotic comment of the day.

Yeah, I'm an idiot because I don't think wealth should be subsidized by taxing economic activity.

Don't you see some cashflow problems with that? Interest rates have varied from near 20% to -0.5% in various western countries over the last 50 years.

Yeah, but it simplifies the accounting and stuff enormously. You just send the same cheque to EVERYONE and make back the taxes once they can earn higher income. I highly doubt anyone in a high tax bracket will be fooled to think that their net position with respect to the government actually increases by 10k with a 10k UBI, but I'd think in that tax bracket that most people should easily understand that their net position can nevertheless benefit by eliminating administrative overhead.

It is certainly redistribution but not necessarily "welfare" depending on how you define that term.

If it's "share dilution" that people are concerned about, then wouldn't they be equally pissed off by the "share dilution" coming from domestic newborn babies? If not, it suggests that people don't fear dilution from new neighbors but rather fear different cultures.

Separate point, but I think the share solution analogy is interesting because in a public company offering new stock is designed to increase the value of the existing shares (otherwise the shareholders would block it). Yes you have a smaller share, but the pie is bigger. This is also the idea of cutting the top marginal income tax rates. The same is true of immigration, but we rarely hear about it in that context.

They wouldn't be equally pissed off, because they're perceived as fellow shareholders with certain rights and privileges. They would be pissed off if there's abuse of those rights and privileges, but not to the same degree as a minority of shareholders deciding to give out shares.

The solution is dead simple. You don't qualify for UBI until you're a second generation adult.

The government taking my money by force and giving it away is a dividend? What are you on, man? Must be some good sh__. I'm ok with that, as long as you agree that if someone torches your home it is "urban/suburban/rural redevelopment" and not arson.

What are you on? In the absence of government, you'd have to tax yourself to defend your life and property.

Ownership is a set of government rules. Without government you own nothing but a spear and and a few skins to hang around yourself. Taxation is another set of rules that makes government and therefore ownership possible. Money itself is purely government rules .

Ownership has taken over an enourmous portion of the world. Think of UBI as compensation to everyone for giving up their biological right to access a largely unowned world with resources for them to use. Just as company dividends are compensation for giving up wealth to a company to use, UBI is a dividend for giving up access to most of the productive parts of the world.

Also, from your link: "The social state, notably social health insurance and pensions, effectively complements household income with social benefits and subsidized services. It transfers money to the many, letting them consume more, or it spares them from the obligation of saving more, thus freeing a substantial part of their professional income for additional consumption. If that is not a massive permanent boost of demand, I don’t know what is."

It's one thing to make an argument, knowing that there are opposing arguments. It's another to say that "If that is not a massive permanent boost of demand, I don’t know what is." I suppose the author is at least honest- I'm willing to believe that he doesn't know that there are arguments to the contrary.

The concern is what is does to savings rates, productivity, labour market participation, etc. I am not aware of any debate about whether or not it would increase consumer demand (it would).

But, the effects on investment demand are still concerning. In the globalized world, the S=I identity may not apply, so concerns about effects on investment demand are likely to be overestimated, if not misplaced entirely.

And anyways, most people like to engage in self improvement of types that improve their economic situation and social status. So, I think it would not be that difficult to ensure access to skills enhancing opportunities for those on the UBI who are unable to access much employment.

Favelas for everyone who wants them combined with UBI - sounds like socialism with a human face, to be honest.

> thousands of dollars per years in extra government benefits for three or five years ... caused adults to earn an average of $1,800 less per year after the experiment concluded. Most of this effect on earned income is concentrated between ages 50 to 60, suggesting that it is related to retirement.

tl;dr - Permanent Income Hypothesis confirmed!

Also, bear in mind that the labor market today is not what it was 40 years ago. The well-known decline in broadly-available manufacturing jobs and the new _Average is Over_ world have strenghtened the case for UBI quite a bit.

Manufacturing jobs ARE widely available. It's extremely hard to fill them. Millennials really have no interest in working in a plant. It's hot in the summer, loud, they can't constantly be on their phone, and their productivity is measured....down to the unit.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to fill these jobs. It's a constant struggle, and we spend a good amount of our managerial energy and focus trying to find candidates.

This meme I keep seeing is just absurd, and takes a lot of interactions for granted. Yes there are fewer people employed as automation increased. But we still can't fill the jobs we have available!

Yes, you can make the argument we don't pay a high enough starting wage. The reservation wage of millennials is high. Why make 50k a year starting out and work your ass off, not to mention get drug tests? You can live in section 8 housing , do drugs, collect welfare, and do some cash work on the side (drugs, construction, landscaping)

Different anon here. That sounds like good and troubling news, if good jobs are not taken. But the BLS report shows -13,000 manufacturing jobs for September, and a diffusion index below 50, so no net jobs gains?

Funny, how giving people $5000 extra a year might have different effects in their 50s and 60s than when you're 25.

Consider what that money might do if you're considering hiring a tutor to prep for a training program you're entering at the age of 25. Or, the new wardrobe that might improve your ability to project whatever projects "professionalism" in the area you want to become active in. Or, the beers and snacks you might buy while plotting your future corporate success with classmates or colleagues? Or, the lease you might sign on a vehicle for your new business, possible now that your monthly income is assured to be sufficient to meet basic payments (contingent on earning at least SOME money from the business).

Giving in to UBI is equivalent to giving in to crime: rather than address the causes of inequality or crime, simply learn to live with inequality by appeasing those at the low end of the income distribution with UBI and learn to live with crime by making the place a police state. Of course, such defeatism is what's expected from a certain group of intellectuals.

We have a real problem brewing. Menial, repetitive jobs can just be automated and there are only so many hotel maids and fast food-cashiers we need.

Would one consequence of a UBI project be a serious attempt to eject all illegal immigrants, and thereafter to keep a tight grip on immigration rates and rules?

No. Illegal aliens are crucial to the Democratic Party vote farm. As for the social worker lobby, those are clients, baby.

Illegal aliens cannot vote. Throw that red herring back in the river, it's starting to stink.

If non-citizens were eligible for benefits available only to citizens, then this might be relevant.

UBI wouldn't be a subject of conversation if being able to eat regularly, wear clothing and get out of the rain at night weren't dependent on having an economic relationship with someone known as an "employer". This is a new phenomenon in human history. For many thousands of years most of the surface of the earth wasn't demarcated into plots whose exploitation was restricted to some while forbidden to others, even though those others may have been born and raised on that very spot. Instead rational Americans have somehow decided that if you don't work, in the sense that working is contributing to the affluence of a capitalist, you shouldn't be able to eat. The same government that guarantees the lines that exclude people from access to local property then decides what the excluded are due as compensation for not being allowed to pick the berries and snare the rabbits, hoping that the excluded don't murder the putative land owners. It's actually a pretty good deal for the both the land owners and the employers.

In the United States, there remain lands open to subsistence living. It's a hard life, and might even qualify you for the World Bank definition of extreme poverty. But it is an available choice.

If you're interested in such things, the reality is that people are routinely ejected from whatever land they might try to use in such a manner. For better or worse ...

Wow, could the right wingers please listen to you? I don't think they accept private property exists through government force so that owners of property owe government or the people so excluded from the property anything in exchange for the government's services and the excluded's acquiescence to the system.

Normally, or rather traditionally, this is one of the few roles of government genuinely accepted on the right side of the spectrum on economy/law/government issues. For health and education, it is often very grudging, in the face of data, that they admit that a non-zero role for government is acceptable.

In stone age societies you don't go it alone trying to live off the land. It is so hard to do that you will likely die trying. Which is why these societies reserved ostracism as punishment for very serious transgressions.

Libertarian and anarchist thinking supposes that there is the option of going it alone long-term, but this has never been done.

It's interesting that the doltish MR commentariat can only conceive of two options, the present government administered private property system or some kind of nomadic hunter/gatherer society, when, in fact, many other ways and means of human exploitation of the land have been used through the millennia. Maybe it's the tendency to see things through a bi-polar lens, up-down, left-right, black-white, Democrat-Republican. Any more than two options is just too confusing.

I think it would help if you shared examples of these other systems you have in mind.

Read some history for many examples. That's not to say that any of those examples are better than the modern world, but they are examples.

China. As on-fifth of the planet, it's hardly an irrelevant exception.

Also, throughout much of the world, traditional systems with rotating access to plots based on need and connections continue to operate.

The second of these is almost certainly inferior, assuming that some mechanism exists to ensure access to earning potential that disappears when chiefs or local leaders can no longer redistribute access to plots. The Chinese system has evolved to maintain formal government ownership of the land, while adjusting various leasing, etc., rules, to get the economic benefits of private property while retaining long-term ownership in public hands.

Extended families did go it alone, that's what small tribes were. Modern society still consists largely of families, but they are not going it alone, and modern market rules work on the basis of individuals, so discourage families from being anything but nuclear.

The view of society as made up of individuals is at odds with all of history and much of thhe modern world. It goes individual, family, and then larger society.

This thinking seems to be especially reserved for the lower, middle and upper middle classes, who must toil and fight as individuals with no more support than the occasional thumbs up (or down).

With what you hear of various dynasties, etc., it seems that many families take the collective approach far more so than their poorer brethren. For example, there's the Rogers family in Ontario which is influential in IT and media. I'd be stunned if there was a single relative out to the 3rd or 4th cousins with an IQ over 90 who is not at least a few levels up in management somewhere or running a company, etc. Clearly they look out for their own, and my assertion is that these traditional family-supporting traditions are much stronger among the very wealthy than the poor.

I guess it's easier to spot uncle Bob a million bucks for his new business idea if you've got a few million to spare lying around that you're not really sure what to do with.

As a part of a somewhat mean (jealous?) streak, but more out of curiosity, I sometimes wonder how people in such situations would perform is dropped into the middle of some foreign society where they had no connections (in the mind game, obviously excluding the ability to phone home and have someone wire you a million bucks). Like ... where would Trump be without his headstart?

In the meantime, perhaps the rest of us should just "buck up and work harder", which conveniently will help to reduce costs for companies while (hopefully, at least) increasing the consumer income available to buy those goods and services.

Ok chuck. Those good ol days of hunter gatherer society certainly kept everyone clothed and fed, or something.

I worry about UBI because I suspect there is a threshold effect where getting an unpleasant or difficult job simply isn't worth it to many people. I think this threshold is actually pretty low among lowest earners. I know the structure of the thing is supposed to be that you are incentivized at the margin to live a better life than the one you have without work, but ... one of those options is infinite vacation days while the other is grinding it out.

I know some people feel like nobody should have to grind it out, but probably my most conservative instinct is we can't afford to lose the negative incentives associated with unemployment. It needs to suck not to re-train if your current skills have limited market value. It needs to suck to sit around all day and we have mounting evidence that people are more than willing to do that if they have a bank of mom and dad type arrangement or even if they don't. I think the emerging view that innovation and quality and scale only comes from technology is a bit limited. What we need is the largest number of people trying things. Just keep trying things. To get that, I think we need it to be pretty unpleasant not to do so.

I think you name the risks of a UBI that is too high for the times.

Agree. If I could construct it like:

Physically or mentally incapable of work get UBI = Ok Life
Those capable of work get UBI = shitty life, like not dead or on the streets but notably unpleasant as a durable condition

and if I could reasonable assurance that it would stay that way, I think it could be fine. What I'm kind of suggesting is I think the incentive to work might collapse very quickly at support levels even slightly above that.

It depends on the size of the UBI. You obviously can't make it 100K per year, or what you say would be true. If it was 1K per year on the other hand, there would be even more incentive of the type you appear to favour, assuming welfare measures are replaced.. There's various degrees in between. You could have exactly the amount of incentive you desire. The incentive can be optimised dynamically as the future unfolds.

Ultimately, it would be subject to political control, as welfare is, and the amount would come out similar to current welfare, and the incentives would be similar to now.

Let's say the UBI is $1000 a month. Guaranteed, every month. Your groceries, rent on a room, and communications and transportation needs are met if you are responsible with money.

But, you want to take out this girl on a date and you want to impress her. So, even though that job sucks, you don't have to do it 40 hours a week with the expectation of continuing to do so for years on end. You just need a few shifts a month to splash out from time to time.

And anyways, most non-caregiving unpleasant tasks are likely to be automated in the coming decades, so ... what to do?

The absence of a clawback and the need for status will keep people working even when their basic needs are met unconditionally. And for those of such supreme personality and talent who may attract mates while tinkering away in arts, sciences or others on the trifling income of the UBI? I would not concern myself about the long-term societal effects of those who can attract without a pocket full of gold.

Beneficial effects of UBI (if done correctly and comprehensively):

--Requires a national ID system - no opting out
--Requires health insurance - this is a mandate that will work
--Requires national service of 2 years to participate
--Will naturally lead to immigration reform on a large scale
--It's the kind of program, like SS, the government can run efficiently
--Enhances national identity

The cosmopolitans at the Mercator Center will hate all of this....

I do not think this would be a bad alternative America.

Which SS are you referring to?

You don't need a national ID system for that. Administrate through state IDs and just have the funds there for use by any state that wants to (to deal with some states which would reject the program outright).

If you can have an election without national ID, cash transfers may also be done without national ID.

One thing that occurred to me was how this relates back to zero marginal product workers and jobs. In a gee-whiz future robots will do everything at low cost, human involvement will be surplus avocation/hobby, and a UBI will be the only answer.

What about now? We aren't there with everyone at the ZMP boundary, but globalization and automation have put many below it. Should 25 year old slackers or 55 year old ex-manufacturing workers get a UBI?

Well, can you think of gainful employment for them, or are you only wishing there was? Maybe they can't even all sling burgers and pick up an earned income credit on top. Maybe there aren't that many grills.

Please stop with the : Do read the whole thing at the end of posts. We will read them if we want to.

Welfare is a perfect way to destroy a culture and individuals. A guaranteed income (as compared with simple welfare) is even better. That seems to be the goal. But the practical problems of welfare and guaranteed income schemes are the real problem. Where does the money come from??? At first it is taken/stolen from the productive. Reminds me of the old adage that if you want to stifle something tax it. So welfare stifles productivity and encourages sloth. The higher taxes also hit businesses which are the source of jobs for the productive. So naturally businesses move offshore to avoid the repressive taxes and the jobs go with them. So how then do you pay the lazy rent seekers to take drugs and push out babies? Well you borrow and print money of course until that short sighted "solution" implodes. And all of this is just so dishonest politicians can buy votes to retain power. And people talk about all of this as though it was a realistic economic philosophy?????

What would Einstein do with a UBI? Wipe his bum with the money or apply himself 100% to his pursuits?

Compare this to the situation of having poor parents and working 20 hours a week as a youth.

How many 100% economically free Einsteins does it take to balance out against even a million layabout bums with a very long-term mindset on productivity, technological development, and the overall wealth, power and prestige of a nation?

It is obvious to me that as machines become more and more capable of more and more complex tasks, that more and more human workers with limited cognitive or physical ability will be displaced. We can either ignore them, round them up and put them into ghettos/re-education camps/work camps (Arbeit Macht Frei) or require something in return. My preference is the latter. Seems to me accomplishment ought to be a basic human right. My thoughts are educational, social, or artistic accomplishment - and the massive (unless A.I.s become capable of such a complex task) government bureaucracy which it will require. Which brings up the interesting thought (at least to me) that as a service economy, the A.I. we should be concerned with is Siri, Echo, Now, Watson. How long will it be before almost all customer service/bureaucratic tasks can be done by A.I. (at attractive costs)?

At this point the political likelihood of the UBI passing is so infintesimally small that it's not even worth the time it would take to develop an informed opinion on. I will say that Wilkinson's comment made me chuckle. "First assume that human nature is completely differently than it actually is."

That is probably the appeal. With no remote possibility of a 2017 UBI bill in Congress, people can discuss UBI philosophically rather than politically.

I have no idea what law in 2017 would actually address ZMP situations.

Sort of like the era between 1993 and 2008 when conservatives and Congressional Republicans could philosophically discuss the appeal of a nationwide health insurance mandate, confident it would never actually become law.

The serious point is that lots of things that seem far-fetched can come under serious consideration within 20 or 30 years.

You're right that it's unlikely to come about in the US, but it's important to discuss and keep alive because there are smaller communities and polities that could implement it, and so that in dire economic times there is an alternative to socialism and communism.

Progress is not served well by refusing to engage with that which will not happen very soon. If we never discussed anything except what is presently on the table for short-term action, we would be stuck chasing our tail most of the time, never engaging in forethought and never reaching towards new modes of how free individuals do, think, act, etc.

Socialism doesn't work.. Do tell.... Neither does the welfare state.

And that's why all the most powerful and wealthy nations on the planet have some variant of that model.

Which does not, however, necessarily mean that more would be better ...

It's a poor test to add UBI on top of regular welfare programs. I thought one was meant to replace the other. So there's no way to know if poor people would forgo lobster to start their own business, because they never had to make that choice.

Try the experiment again but make the money conditional upon waiving all welfare benefits.

Re Will Wilkinson: So? Is Will arguing that we should prefer a world in which a UBI is enacted, not the UBI itself?

This feels a lot like a utopian dream, not a rational policy discussion. I'd prefer a world where we have no nuclear weapons, and the necessary political will to make that happen - but I'm not advocating ditching the Wests nuclear weapons before the political will part happens first.

For your slower readers like me, it might be nice if the first time you use an acronym, you spell it out. What does RCT and UBI mean?

Randomized Control Trial (program benefits are allocated randomly to be able to better study the effects) and Universal Basic Income (all citizens are guaranteed some amount, with no administrative burden or conditions, on a monthly basis).

Random Controlled Trial. Universal Basic Income.

Randomized that is.

That first piece that Tyler linked to is garbage. It basically argues that the biggest problem with a UBI is that it would lead to reductions in all kind of government interventions that the author prefers. Oh, and it also blames the poor quality of NHS health care on "right-wingers." *yawns*

You should also acknowledge that 5 years of income stability is likely to be much too short to experience the proposed benefits.

The theory behind UBI is based around providing assistance that prevents people from slipping into no-win choices like fixing a car or going to the doctor, or possibly chronic stress. 5 years out of a lifetime won't offer much benefit in either regard.

Divorce rates will rise, because women stuck with an abusive man will then have options outside of an abusive marriage which ensure her (and/or children's) fulfillment of basic needs. As a result, the cycle of domestic violence can be much more rapidly cured with such a policy.

How do you put a price tag on that?

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