Universal Basic Income Has Been Tried Over and Over Again. It Works Every Time.


Photo: NICK OTTO/AFP (Getty Images)

The city of Stockton, California, began a UBI experiment in 2019 that, by all available metrics, has been a big success. The SEED program, as it’s called, doled out monthly unconditional sums of $500 to 125 low-income participants for two years.

An analysis of the program showed that it helped improve the life experience of the people involved, who felt “healthier, showing less depression and anxiety and enhanced well-being” than people who had not received the funds. The analysis also showed that the extra cash was primarily used to pay for basic needs. Recipients spent the money mostly on food (such purchases comprised between 34-40 percent of the money spent), as well as retail merchandise, car care, utilities, insurance and medical expenses, as well as a very small amount of self-care. Stockton’s program is credited with having inspired other, similar pilot programs in other cities—particularly in California.


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