Within the last couple years, basic income — a system in which citizens receive regular payments to cover basic living costs — has touched nearly all corners of the world.
Experiments from Kenya to the Netherlands to California are investigating what happens when governments and private organizations give people money for nothing. Do people work less? Do they escape poverty? How many sit and do nothing?
Here are the experiments leading that charge in 2017.
In October 2016, GiveDirectly, a charity best known for its cash transfer programs, launched a pilot version of what will become the largest basic income experiment in history.
Beginning in the next few months, residents in 40 villages will each receive roughly $22.50 per month for 12 years. Meanwhile, 80 villages will get the same amount for just two years, another 80 will get a lump sum equal to the two-year amount, and 100 villages will get no money.
The experiment should produce some of the most comprehensive basic income data yet.
In a two-year experiment in Finland that launched on New Year’s Day, Kela — the country’s federal economic agency — is giving 2,000 unemployed citizens approximately $600 a month.
The goal is twofold: to measure how basic income could provide a new structure for social security, and to see whether people’s productivity levels change when they receive the guaranteed stipend.
Silicon Valley’s largest startup accelerator, Y Combinator, announced in mid-2016 that it would soon begin giving monthly stipends between $1,000 and $2,000 a month to 100 families in Oakland.
In the true spirit of basic income, the families range in socioeconomic status and will receive the money even if they decide to leave the US.
If the pilot is a success, a five-year trial will follow.
San Francisco, California
On January 23, San Francisco’s Office of Financial Empowerment announced a plan to launch a $5 million basic income experiment later this year.
The pilot will give families with young children a monthly payment between $1,000 and $2,000. It’ll compare whether basic income works better than other forms of assistance to help parents raise happy and healthy kids.
“A focus on kids skirts a lot of the questions people usually have about basic income,” such as the use of drugs or alcohol, San Francisco OFE Director Sean Kline said during the announcement forum.
Utrecht, the Netherlands
Tentatively slated to start in the coming months, the basic income experiment in Utrecht will last for two years and involve 250 Dutch citizens.
The recipients must currently be on government assistance, and each one will receive about $1,100 per month.
The trial will include six groups, each of which will receive varying amounts of money according to different requirements. One group, for example, will get an extra $161 at the month’s end if they do volunteer work. Another gets the money up front but must give it back if they don’t volunteer.
In the 1970s, a basic income experiment took place in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Forty years later, Ontario has expressed interest in following up on that trial with a study of its own.
The government hasn’t yet released many details of the trial yet, which will likely begin in spring 2017, though it has aside roughly $19 million to fund it.
Ontario Works, the jobs department of the Ontario government, is asking the public to weigh in via an online survey. The survey includes projected payment amounts, provisions, and general questions about interest in basic income.
India’s government is moving closer to launching a follow-up basic income experiment to the two 2010 experiments conducted in the state of Madhya Pradesh. In those initial trials, more than 6,000 people received monthly payments of about $24 for 18 months.
Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, has expressed optimism that basic income will take hold in the world’s second-most-populous country.
Filippo Nogarin, mayor of the 150,000-person Italian city of Livorno, began giving 100 people in his coastal city a monthly income of $537 in June 2016. This year, he’s expanding the group to include 100 more.
The pilot will be small in scope, lasting just six months, but other Italian towns, such as Ragusa and Naples, are following the mayor’s lead and considering pilots of their own.
Nogarin has said the system helps people get back on their feet without the state presuming to know what’s best for them.
Starting this year, the nonprofit Eight will begin handing out a weekly basic income of $8.60 (€8, as per the organization’s name) to 50 households in a village in the Fort Portal region of Uganda.
The trial will last for two years and be the subject of a related documentary called “Village One,” Kate McFarland of BIEN reports.
Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.