The Stream

Will universal basic income become mainstream?

On Tuesday, April 11 at 19:30 GMT:
Interest in universal basic income (UBI) programmes around the world is continuing to rise, with governments and private donor groups examining the social and economic effects of unconditional cash payments to citizens.

Ireland recently joined the ranks of countries providing a basic income. In a three-year pilot initiative, 2,000 artists and creatives are receiving payments of €325 ($355) a week.

The programme, which has cross-party support, is similar to basic income plans trialled in other countries including Finland, the United States and Wales. About 10 million women in India’s Tamil Nadu state will receive basic income payments when a programme backed by state leaders launches in September. GiveDirectly, a New York-based NGO funded by private donors, is providing unconditional monthly payments to people in rural Kenya in a twelve-year programme.

Recipients of universal basic income – particularly those living in financial precarity – say the payments have improved their well-being and helped them focus on boosting their education and skills. Proponents of UBI say it helps spur local economies, given that recipients are free to use the money how they choose. Critics say the pilot schemes are merely providing free money with little oversight, disincentivising people from work and driving a wedge between recipients and other community members who miss out.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll examine the increasing interest in basic income schemes around the world and ask if UBI is winning mainstream acceptance.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Elinor O’Donovan, @elinorodonovan
Artist, and recipient of funds under Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts programme

Sam Soko, @sokosam
Director of documentary film ‘Free Money’

Guy Standing
Founding member and honorary co-president, Basic Income Earth Network