The idea of Universal Basic Income

According to Vox Media, the idea of a basic income was, for decades, something of a policy fantasy. However, the last few years have seen it become less fringe and more mainstream. In fact, we now have many limited basic income programs running around the world.

The general idea—that the government should give every citizen a regular infusion of money with no strings attached—has been around since the 16th century. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has given the idea fresh momentum, with the crisis generating significant financial loss and uncertainty.

Critics worry that UBI will disincentivize work and hurt the economy. They also say that it is unaffordable for the government to pay every citizen enough to live on, regardless of whether they work. So far, the evidence has not supported these critiques.

Proponents of basic income argue the best way to end poverty is by simply giving everyone money. Some also say it will help society cope with a coming era of automation-induced joblessness. And the evidence so far suggests that getting a basic income tends to boost happiness, health, school attendance, trust in social institutions and many parts of the economy, all while reducing crime, hunger, and extreme poverty.

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