From FiveThirtyEight’s article, What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?, discussing the results of the MINCOME experiment in Canada in the 1970s where families received a basic income, no strings attached:

Families receiving MINCOME had fewer hospitalizations, accidents and injuries, Forget found. Mental health hospitalizations fell dramatically. And the high school completion rate ticked up during the years of the experiment, with 16-to-18-year-old boys, in particular, more likely to finish school. Younger adolescent girls were less likely to give birth before age 25, and when they did, they had fewer kids.

The program brought most recipients above Canada’s poverty line. And the employment effects in Dauphin were modest. “For primary earners — those with full-time jobs — there was virtually no decline” in work, Forget said. “Nobody was quitting their jobs.” Cash from the government eased families’ economic anxiety, allowing them to invest in their health and plan over a longer horizon.

The idea of a basic income (instead of means tested “welfare”) is gaining traction. Several countries (Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Kenya, etc) are planning modern experiments of their own. Politics and logistics aside, how else will our economies function when much of the conventional labor force is inevitably replaced by machines?

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