Thaïs Bendixen had a problem. Like many other millennials, the 25-year-old master’s student from Portugal “didn’t have any [financial] help from her parents” and had to balance the need to feed her brain with the need to put food on the table. “I knew I didn’t want to be in front of a computer—I wanted to be outside doing something to help the environment,” Bendixen says, explaining how difficult she found it to work and study at the same time.
Bendixen belongs to a generation that changes jobs more frequently than any other, a trend that annually costs the U.S. $30.5 billion, according to a 2016 Gallup report. One reason—the same report suggests—is their low work engagement, as only 29% of millennials claimed to feel “emotionally and behaviorally” connected to their job. But separate research says work itself isn’t the problem, and in fact, many workers—particularly millennials—would give up higher pay to take a job that they love or find meaningful. So what happens when workers like Bendixen have a baseline of economic freedom to do just that? An experiment with a kind of basic income in Germany is providing some interesting answers.
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