What Happens When Everyone is Given Basic Income?

The Dutch city of Utrecht has set up an experiment to find out. Will everyone turn into lazy do-nothings or will people be encouraged to pursue passion projects?

Here's a new concept: basic income. It's an interesting system in which every citizen, regardless of status, receives an unconditional sum of money. This income is given even if the person doesn't have a job. Will it work? Well, the Dutch city of Utrecht is trying it on.

It may be a good way to go; after all, past studies have found generous welfare benefits encourages people to work. What's more, it'll allow people who do enjoy giving back to do so, and allow those who would not otherwise have the means to work on passion projects to pursue them. This could lead to innovations, better social programs, and more.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, the city has teamed up with the University College in Utrecht to observe and study the data they receive from this experiment. Victor Everhardt, Utrecht's alderman for work and income, explained in a statement that this city experiment will have some conditions:

“One group will have compensation and consideration for an allowance; another group with a basic income without rules and, of course, [there will be] a control group, which adheres to the current rules. Our data shows that less than 1.5 percent abuse the welfare, but, before we get into all kinds of principled debate about whether we should or should not enter, we need to first examine if basic income even really works.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of developments are made over the course of the study. Everhardt can only speculate.

“What happens if someone gets a monthly amount without rules and controls? Will someone sitting passively at home or do people develop themselves and provide a meaningful contribution to our society?”

The president of Iceland explains the secret to the Nordic countries' recent economic and social success. Social welfare programs such as free access to education and health care have proved to be a boon to the free market economy.

Photo Credit: Marco Spaapen/ Flickr

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