Basic income’s experimental wave is over: Time for policies


The wave of basic income experiments in the last two years was a positive development in giving Universal Basic Income (UBI) some level of attention and political legitimacy in Western countries.

It is time to recognize the experimental wave is coming to an end.

Basic income activists in the next wave of UBI political discussions should push for policy changes in the direction of basic income. There are ongoing and completed trials testing cash transfers in countries with different stages of economic development. It makes more sense to build a foundation for policy changes as these results trickle out over the next few years rather than pushing for yet another experiment.

In Canada, the push for experiments backfired because a Conservative government canceled it before any results could be collected. I supported Ontario’s experiment and there was value in the research.

However, Ontario’s cancellation demonstrated that as activists move forward, we must recognize that experiments do not create a political constituency. In Alaska, the partial basic income policy has broad and significant support because everyone has benefited from it. Building a constituency that can be expanded and deepened is where activist energy should be placed in the next stage.

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