Does Unconditional Basic Income Create A More Productive Society? Some Dutch Cities Are About To Find Out!

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In June, the City Council of Utrecht in The Netherlands announced that starting January 2016, a few lucky residents will receive a monthly stipend to cover their basic needs with no strings attached. That means that the recipients will have to do nothing in return and can spend the rest of their days lounging by a pool if they so wish.

Of course, the officials who are working on this social experiment with researchers from the University of Utrecht, hope that will not be the case. Instead, they believe a guaranteed basic income will motivate residents more than the current welfare program that is conditional on them seeking a job.

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While that may seem strange, proponents believe that when people do not have to worry about paying for basic needs, they are motivated to seek out other opportunities. This could range from going back to school, to achieving a better work-life balance with flexible hours or even, giving back to society by volunteering.

Utrecht City Alderman Victor Everhard believes that the freedom to choose allows individuals to make more meaningful contributions to society. And he is not the only one. Earlier this week, the neighboring city of Tilburg announced it would conduct a similar social experiment to try to improve the lives of its 200,000 residents.

To be clear, basic income is exactly that - just enough money to pay for necessities like food and rent. Hence order to be able to afford anything else, people do need to seek out some form of employment. However, the logic is that since the core needs are covered, they will gravitate toward careers that are more fulfilling than ones that merely help pay the bills. This eventually results in a happier, more content society.

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For its basic income program test which starts in January 2016, Utrecht officials plan to select 300 welfare recipients and divide them into six groups of 50 each. The control group will continue with the current regulations with its requirements around job-seeking and qualifying income. Three other groups will have to "earn" their money through a different system of incentives and rewards. And then there will the chosen 50 who will receive an unconditional monthly basic income stipend of between $900 (for an adult) to $1,450 (couple or family). Members of all groups will be monitored carefully and the results, evaluated at the end of the year.

The idea of basic income is not new. Over the years, the experiments have been tried in countries around the world, from India to Uganda. One of the most famous such trials was conducted in the town of Dauphin in Manitoba, Canada. From 1974 to 1979, the Minicome project provided a stipend, of varying amounts depending on individual income, to the town's entire population.

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According to skeptics, the program was a failure given that the number of hours worked dropped dramatically. However, University of Manitoba economist Evelyn L. Forget who studied the experiment in detail, begs to differ. She says the loss of working hours can be attributed to the fact that the basic income allowed youngsters to continue studying and mothers to take longer maternity breaks to tend to their newborns. An unexpected benefit? The rate of hospital visits especially for mental-health-related complaints dropped dramatically! Unfortunately, the program was stopped before a full evaluation of its long-term impact could be made.

Though the Netherlands experiment is slightly different in that it is reserved only for those on welfare, its results may finally appease skeptics who believe that that unconditional basic income results in an unmotivated population . . . Or, it could just prove them right! So stay tuned!

Resources: qz.com, dutchnews.nl,zmescience.com

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51 Comments
  • rainbowcorn02
    rainbowcorn02Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 9:03 am
    Well I agree with "I support this" !
    • nettybetty
      nettybettyTuesday, January 5, 2016 at 11:08 am
      i agree with jelly21 i am also with U.G.I.
      • jelly21Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 10:47 am
        she or he is a good and cool drawer
        • i support thisSunday, October 18, 2015 at 7:39 pm
          people are lazy workers if they hate their job and sanitary work would be done by criminals and wokers who wank base income and full salary. and people would be able to innovate and improve as whole. also poverty is wrong so as it would eliminate poverty it is good and people who are seeking work or working a job that does not meet income can get more than couch people. but I see how democracy and socialism are an exelent combination. even though I am only in 9th grade
          • igor i costaFriday, October 9, 2015 at 9:29 am
            I am not in favor of this idea!!!! I agree that it would not be fair and that the way of life is more important than the econemy. It is not worth a risk to lose everything and the econemy would go down. It is not right that people lose their money.
            • marshawn lynchWednesday, September 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm
              that is incredible
              • ?????Monday, September 7, 2015 at 8:45 am
                BEST IDEA EVER and........ #deeznuts e.e
                • melly666
                  melly666Saturday, September 5, 2015 at 9:41 am
                  If this has been tried in countries around the world and it didn't take off then it didn't work did it! Also I trust nothing like this that governments put forward...it's just a slow progression to slave labour....this is where it's going!
                  • IsabelThursday, August 27, 2015 at 10:33 am
                    I don't really agree with the "lazy people" that will just get money for free. Its completely unfair and the people who would work hard for that money won't even get a " Thank you ". It's just a bad way to manage the world like that. If that happened, no one would work, that means less money. Everyone would quit jobs if they just had money delivered right to their doorstep! If people worked for their money, then " lazy people " would start work, and that means more money. It's smart to let people choose their jobs and be happy instead of them getting rich from laying around all day! The needy doesn't want it, they NEED it. And if people quit their jobs, that means no money for them. Please no hate and I know this comment is long but please understand what I am saying. Thanks!
                    • Frozone74Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm
                      I agree because you can always give the not as sanitary jobs to criminals like community service.