Rethinking Welfare: Universal Basic Income

Solutions Journalism Network

By Saira Bajwa, Solutions Specialist

Once considered a radical experiment, Universal Basic Income (UBI) is now under consideration in several countries across the globe. The pandemic and increasing workplace automation are two of the main drivers of debate over this poverty alleviation strategy. Most UBI initiatives distribute cash payments. Pilot programs have been launched by local governments and nonprofit organizations to address and reduce systemic inequities. Andrew Yang, former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, even centered his campaign on it, saying on CBS’s Face the Nation, "Americans will work even harder when they’re given the resources to get ahead.”

Since then, the United States has seen powerful evidence that cash payments do work to alleviate poverty. Federal relief in response to the coronavirus pandemic provided Americans with $1,200 each in addition to $600 a week for unemployment benefits. Even as the economy came to a standstill, the cash transfers reduced poverty rates from 10.9 percent in January to 8.6 percent in April and May.

This collection explores worldwide UBI programs that can inform American communities.