An American charity launched this week a 12-year-long experiment in Kenya involving 6,000 people and $30 million to test the potential success of basic income. By the year, 2030, researchers will have troves of data on how basic income has affected thousands.
The founders of the New York-based nonprofit GiveDirectly distinguish their basic income experiment from others by selecting people in “extreme poverty” for their study, the early results of which they expect to receive “within the next year or two.”
The concept of basic income has few defining factors: Usually the amount of money is small, it’s continual, and there are no strings attached. It allows impoverished people a “freedom, dignity, and flexibility” that other social programs aimed at eliminating poverty don’t allow, GiveDirectly’s founders wrote last year.
To test the theory, GiveDirectly has so far worked on a small scale by orchestrating direct cash transfers via cell phone in East Africa. But to prove that unrestricted monetary payments could be successful on a mass scale, GiveDirectly embarked this month on one of the largest-ever basic income tests; providing 6,000 residents in Kenya with a regular income.
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