How does a basic income affect recipients during COVID-19?

Ini­tial re­sults from our ba­sic in­come ex­per­i­ment were re­leased to­day.

In the work­ing pa­per’s ab­stract, re­searchers Ab­hijit Ban­er­jee, Michael Faye, the late Alan Krueger, Paul Nie­haus, and Tavneet Suri wrote:

We ex­am­ine some effects of Univer­sal Ba­sic In­come (UBI) dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic us­ing a large-scale ex­per­i­ment in ru­ral Kenya. Trans­fers sig­nifi­cantly im­proved well-be­ing on com­mon mea­sures such as hunger, sick­ness and de­pres­sion in spite of the pan­demic, but with mod­est effect sizes. They may have had pub­lic health benefits, as they re­duced hos­pi­tal vis­its and de­creased so­cial (but not com­mer­cial) in­ter­ac­tions that in­fluence con­ta­gion rates. Dur­ing the pan­demic (and con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous agri­cul­tural lean sea­son) re­cip­i­ents lost the in­come gains from start­ing new non-agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises that they had ini­tially ob­tained, but also suffered smaller in­creases in hunger. This pat­tern is con­sis­tent with the idea that UBI in­duced re­cip­i­ents to take on more in­come risk in part by miti­gat­ing the most harm­ful con­se­quences of ad­verse shocks.

Th­ese are the first re­sults from the 12-year ba­sic in­come study started in 2017. We ex­pect ad­di­tional re­sults from the first endline sur­vey to be re­leased later this year and fol­low-up re­search will take place ev­ery 2 to 5 years fol­low­ing.

Read the full study here.

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