Should we have a universal basic income?

The Hinckley Institute Radio Hour (Original Air Date: July 17, 2019) This week on the program, we bring you a forum to ask the question, “Should we have a universal basic income?” (UBI) in the U.S.?

A UBI refers to the dispersing of a set amount of income to all members of society to curb poverty and increase economic freedom. 

While a UBI was an idea far outside the mainstream before 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically shifted the conversation. Expanded unemployment payments and stimulus checks passed in pandemic relief packages share the same logic as a UBI in providing aid to the economically vulnerable to stimulate the economy and curb inequality. 

A recent study tested a UBI’s efficacy by providing 125 low-income residents in Stockton, California, $500 per month for two years. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), who conducted the study, reported that participants saw a 12 percent jump in full-time work, improved mental health and greater freedom to take advantage of economic opportunities such as internships and job training. In comparison, the study’s control group saw only a 5 percent increase in full-time work.

Getting into the strengths and weaknesses of a universal basic income are Rudi von Arnim, associate professor of economics at the University of Utah; Gina Cornia, Executive Director of Utahns Against Hunger; and Stephen Bannister, Associate Professor of economics at the U. Moderating this week ’s discussion is Brad Williams, Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at the David Eccles School of Business.

This discussion was recorded on February 27, 2019.

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