Case Studies & Further Reading
A Proven, Successful Policy
The most intriguing story of a Basic Income program right now originated in Stockton, CA, where Mayor Michael Tubbs instituted a pilot program with private funding that provided, with no strings attached, $500 monthly to 125 adult residents who lived in a neighborhood where the median income was at or below the city median income. This test was originally scheduled to last 18 months, but was extended in June to January 2021. Mayor Tubbs, a 30-year old who grew up in poverty in Stockton and is the city’s first Black mayor, saw this project as a way to address his city’s 23% poverty rate.
The money, which was provided by the Economic Security Project as well as other private donors, has been distributed to a group of 125 residents who were randomly selected from a group of 1,000 residents invited to sign up for the program. The 875 residents who were not initially selected to receive the income became the control group. During the pilot all Stockton residents have also been encouraged to contribute to a public forum discussion about their experiences with financial security.
Of the 125 recipients, 70% identified as female. In terms of race and ethnicity, 47% identified themselves as white, 28% as Black or African American, 11% as Asian, 2% as American Indian, and 10% as “other.” Among all recipients, 37% identified as Hispanic, Latinx, or of Spanish origin. When it comes to employment, 43% are employed full- or part-time, 20% are disabled or not working, 11% are caretakers, 11% are looking for work, and less than 2% are unemployed and not looking for work.
As this was a test program, Tubbs wanted to see how recipients spent the money. He found 40% of it was spent on food, 25% on sales and merchandise, 11% on bills, and 9% on car repairs/gas. Anecdotally, Tubbs has told a story about one recipient who used the money to take unpaid leave and pursue better work, which paid off and now the recipient can afford tutoring for his kids.
“My health feels a lot, lot better,” said another recipient. “I was stressed out, my body was wearing out, you could tell my body was wearing out...I feel healthier, I have more energy, I’m able to just relax and have fun I guess have fun. Having fun with my kids, that’s the biggest thing right now. It’s only six months right now. Six months and it opened my eyes to a whole bunch of different things.”
Since the pandemic struck, Tubbs has described UBI as a “pandemic resilience tool” and extended the program into 2021. The mayor also supported the bill proposed by US Senators Harris, Sanders, and Markey to give Americans $2,000 a month as a first step to getting the federal government to support some sort of UBI. In the meantime, other cities are following in Stockton’s footsteps.
On June 29th, 9 US cities joined Mayors For A Guaranteed Income, a group founded by Tubbs. While these cities will advocate for UBI together, each will create its own initiative with its own funding streams, which may come from the city’s budget or from public/private partnerships. Sarah has pledged to join this list immediately upon becoming Mayor.
US Cities signing on after Stockton experiment
- Los Angeles, CA
- Atlanta, GA
- Oakland, CA
- Tacoma, WA
- Newark, NJ
- Saint Paul, MN
- Jackson, MS
- Compton, CA
- Shreveport, LA
From an op-ed piece published in Time magazine by the group of mayors
Following in SEED’s footsteps, Mayor Baraka (Newark, N.J.) launched a task force and released a report calling for a pilot and a federal guaranteed-income policy. Mayor Lumumba (Jackson, Miss.) is supportive of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, a non-government program that gives $1,000 a month to Black mothers living in extreme poverty. Mayor Carter (St. Paul, Minn.) issued a one-time cash infusion of $1,000 to about 1,250 families with children in response to COVID-19. Mayor Garcetti’s (Los Angeles) Angeleno Campaign provided prepaid debit cards of $700 to $1,500 to residents whose total household income fell below the poverty line before COVID-19. And Mayor Brown (Compton, Calif.) announced a [partnership with the nonprofit Give Directly], which gives cash directly to people living in poverty, to distribute $1,000 to families that receive food stamps benefits.
Notable Case Studies Worldwide:
- Timeline: Since 1976
- Recipients: All Alaskan individual citizens (including children)
- Amount: Range from $300-$2,000 per year depending on year.
- Source: 25% of dividends from all mineral industries
- Success: Popular across the Alaskan political spectrum, but suffers dramatically when oil prices drop
- What else? Tied to fossil fuels.
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina:
- Timeline: Since 1996
- Recipients: 15,000 tribal members initially
- Amount: Roughly 1,000/month to every tribal member in 2016 (distributed biannually)
- Source: Casino revenue.
- Success: Results have shown improvements in family relationships and mental health among children. Most money is put towards basic living expenses, reducing household stress.
- What else? Children’s mental health improved dramatically after the program started and they were lifted above the poverty rate. These children also stayed in school longer and reduced the chances they would commit a minor crime.
- Timeline: 2017-2018
- Recipients: 2,000 unemployed residents.
- Amount: $663 dollars/month (560 euros/month)
- Source: National government funded the project, which created some political tension that may have hurt the program.
- Success: Considered a failure due to many recipients remaining unemployed. However, researchers have pointed to flaws in the program’s design, including lack of funds and rushed timeline. Recipients were also forced to forgo other benefits in order to be a part of the program, while the control group continued to receive those conditional benefits (which were worth more money).
- What else? Recipients reported they were happier and healthier, and had a better perception of their economic welfare.
- Timeline: 2021-2023
- Recipients: 1,500 participants who are at least 18 years old and have their primary residence in Germany. Employment status is irrelevant.
- Amount: 1,200 euros a month for 3 years.
- Source: At least $140,000 from private individuals who can contribute via Paypal.
- Success: Ongoing.
- What else? A German researching institute and a university are partners on the project
- Timeline: 2016-2026
- Recipients: 6,000 Kenyans (unclear whether citizenship required) receive UBI among 15,000 who receive some other form of cash payment
- Amount: $250-$400 a year (in some cases, this will amount to or exceed a recipients’ annual salary).
- Source: GiveDirectly charity organization
- Success: Ongoing
- What else? Longest current commitment to a fully universal UBI program
- Timeline: 2020-indefinite.
- Recipients: 52,000 out of 157,000 Maricans. Must earn under a certain income and have lived in Marica for at least 3 years.
- Amount: Equivalent of $64 a month (130 reais/month, where the minimum monthly wage for a full-time job is $998 reais).
- Source: The Municipality of Marica budget, which obtains funds through oil royalties. Success: Ongoing.
- What else? Does not distribute national currency, but local currency that can only be spent in Marica, strengthening a “solidarity economy.” This is not a pilot, but a full-on UBI program. Not dependent entirely on taxes, but oil sales.
- Timeline: 2019-2021
- Recipients: 125 randomly selected families
- Amount: $500/month
- Source: Privately funded
- Success: Considered a successful and extended into 2021
- What else? Source of inspiration for 9 other US cities.