What Countries Have Tried Universal Basic Income? | NowThis World
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What Countries Have Tried Universal Basic Income? | NowThis World

What happens when a government gives their
citizens free money? And – if it’s coming from the government
– is it really free? l
Hey guys, I’m Alex, this is NowThis World, and on this episode, we’re talking about
Universal Basic Income, what it is, and why it’s becoming a popular subject of debate. Following recent news that Finland opted out
of continuing its UBI pilot program beyond 2018, economists are questioning the sustainability
of the controversial model. We’re taking a look at local and national
governments around the world that have given it a shot – and diving into the question:
could a universal basic income work for the U.S.? First – let’s break it down. Though it comes in different shapes and sizes,
universal basic income is an economic concept in which everyone gets an equal amount of
money from the government, every month, no strings attached. So whether you’re unemployed or working,
low-income or in the 1%, the same check will always come. And nobody will tell you how to spend it. Supporters say the idea is that providing
folks with a security net won’t encourage them to stop working, but actually give them
the freedom to pursue work they’re really interested in, and restore economic security. Some liberal proponents argue that increasing
taxes on corporations and the wealthy to help support a universal income could be a positive
way to help out low-income communities, while some conservative supporters like the idea
that a successful UBI could replace what they deem as costly and ineffective social services
like food stamps, job training, Medicaid, and more. The idea has gained steam in recentyears,
with 48% of Americans supporting a universal basic income program as of 2017, a number
which, according to economist Karl Widerquist, has skyrocketed up from 12% just 10 years
ago. But it’s not a new concept. As far back as 1516, philosopher Thomas More
proposed a similar idea in his book Utopia. In a 1792 pamphlet, founding father Thomas
Paine proposed a basic income for “every person, rich or poor.” And 20th century leaders from Milton Friedman
to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke out about the potential for a basic income to help different
communities out of poverty. And under President Nixon, a plan nearly passed
to establish a guaranteed minimum income in the early ‘70s. Fast forward to today, and the concept is
the subject of books, documentaries, and countless academic panels. It’s got big-name backers from Elon Musk,
to Mark Zuckerberg, to Senator Bernie Sanders, who said he’s “sympathetic” to the approach. Countries around the world have piloted versions
of the UBI experiment including Kenya, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain, with
proposed versions in places like India and Scotland. It’s even been tested in a few U.S. cities
– but, would it be a viable option for the American economy? Let’s look at the pros and cons. We asked UBI expert and advocate Sandhya Anantharaman
for her take on why some feel the concept is gaining steam. Poverty is exhausting, and financial stress
is exhausting, and it really limits the time and space mentally that you have to work on
great ideas. So the idea is that, for people who are struggling
to make rent payments, buy groceries, and support their families, the stress can be
overwhelming – and flat-out tiring. But having a security net – of, say, $1000
per month, could clear up people’s time that they’d ordinarily spend stressing about
where their next meal will come from, and spend more time job-searching, volunteering,
or participating in the economy. Some participants in Finland’s pilot program,
which will run through the end of 2018, are already reporting that their stress levels
have decreased. And while many critics argue that free cash
would disincentivize work, supporters say there’s some evidence to the contrary. In the 1960s we did a number of experiments
around the country in different states to test the impact of unconditional cash on work. So essentially, do people work fewer hours
or work for less money when you give them unconditional support? In a paper done by the Roosevelt Institute
last year, they reexamined these experiments and saw that there was essentially no reduction
in work hours, so when you gave people unconditional cash, you didn’t see a decrease in the hours
worked, instead folks just took the opportunity to enjoy the stability that they had. When we looked into the data Anantharaman
references , it did indicate that some programs resulted in “a slight reduction in work
and earnings,” but also ultimately showed that the experiments didn’t result in the
average worker leaving the labor force. Of course, data from a few small experiments
in the ‘60s isn’t a perfect predictor of what would happen in the U.S. economy today. But another recent study by the Roosevelt
Institute showed that the economy could stand to gain trillions of dollars if UBI were to
be successfully implemented. Others argue that UBI is a good solution to
the growing fear that automation will swallow jobs and lead to mass unemployment. Study results vary widely on how much of a
threat automation actually is to the workforce. Whatever the truth, the risk certainly feels
real to some Americans. Two-third of them think robots and computer
will do “much of the work done by humans” within 50 years, according to a 2016 Pew study. There have been other positive from similar
pilot programs in other parts of the world, too, including one in Dauphin, Canada. So you saw kids, particularly young boys,
stay in school longer, thanks to the cash that their families had, because that means
they didn’t have to drop and get jobs, they could stay in school. You saw young mothers take more time off,
particularly women who had just given birth took time off to spend with their kids. You also saw health outcomes go up. You saw incidents of hospitalizations went
down, you saw mental health go up. And in Western Kenya – early results based
on interviews with participants of the 12-year pilot program showed reduced conflict and
poverty. And advocates of universal basic income in
the U.S. argue it could actually build bipartisan support , with a program that would both reduce
social welfare programs and tax the wealthy. Of course, critics of the concept argue there
are many reasons UBI wouldn’t work in the U.S. The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities suggests that even a cautious approach to UBI would likely increase poverty rather
than decrease it. Their report shows that a monthly $900 for
each American would cost about $3 trillion annually. Even if we just take into account the net
cost of UBI rather than the gross, it’s still a huge cost – and would Americans really
go for a major tax increase? Some critics of the program also take issue
with the fact that, unlike other social welfare programs, UBI wouldn’t specifically help
low-income communities. The same monthly check would arrive at Bill
Gates’ doorstsep as the average American. And many argue creating something like a UBI
would inevitably lead to the government having to slash other social welfare programs. And finally, another critique is that UBI
could disincentivize work – critics argue that people wouldn’t feel the need to work
or keep a job if they’re receiving a free check. Most data we examined from pilot programs
– both in the states and abroad – showed that people generally kept working. In some instances, part-time work even increased. But some experts say that might only be the
case if the cash subsidy is enough for people to live on. One thing critics and opponents agree on is
that funding this program will come with one heck of a price tag.


  • RunFor OurLives

    You get $3T you can get from VAT. Hundreds of billions will be gone by reduction of redundant programs.

    Last I heard Amazon and Netflix and other corps are only paying zero to about 10% tax and plenty of money in off shore accounts.

    Corps aren’t paying their fair shares You news VAT to prevent them from avoid paying taxes.


    Essential to UBI is its universality and as such it is not tried anywhere. What are positive effects of UBI: 1. more profit for small businesses and the middle class. 2. lower taxation of labor because of end social security 3. no need to lift wages 4. less problems with private debt accumulation 5. combination with universal Healthcare needed 6. more children, less divorce 7.simplification and automation taxation 8. end all forms of security and state pension. 9 emerging social work for low payment 10. high wage earners do not experience any difference 11. growing entrepeneurship for small business etc.

  • Michael nunya

    I don’t care what they try, the federal reserve system is a form of communism as is fiat money. Read the 10 planks of communism.
    Their corrupt system will fail and the failure will be spectacular.
    I have little doubt that it could bring about civil revolutions and the stretching of some of the elites necks.

  • Alex Ma

    Why did Scandinavian country stop ubi if it had positive affect? Also for ubi to work they would need to tax the people with money. Why would they stay? When Sweden went socialist, even IKEA had left for a while.

  • Alex Ma

    My taxes has to be enough to generate ubi, to get my taxes back. Instead of taxing me, then have the government waist some before giving it back to me, why not just don't tax me what you will give back anyways?

  • Sassy Totem

    I wish you delved deeper into why Finland was discontinuing its UBI program. It seems to be a key indicator for the viability of the program in a developed country.

  • Kronickillness Nikolaos

    Nah it shouldn't be given to ALL ppl like the 1% n rich who wouldn't be able to live such a simple life and be considered poor but that's a whole comment itself we should give it to ppl like me who are poor already and live on public assistance. U should also need to maybe at least apply for it cuz if everyone's getting it there's not enough$too do so. There's no such thing as "free$" it's all tax$ if I had unconditional support and then an additional income added to my 700$ a mo. I would get an education on things I want to do. Many things exist today that didn't back when i was working. (We almost already have it with welfare) I think it would cause some ppl to not work n only did part time if any at all. I think we can make something positive give a 2nd chance to get on ur own feet again. Cuz that's so many opportunities for the poor to buy camera equipment n stream games or vlog yt etc fund trips to locations good to Film buy painting stuff n start painting. I would buy a pc and get a DAW digital audio work station. A midi cdj2000s and I would upload my mixes start a podcast. Go to college and learn how to do any of these things pr pot n go work in the field grow or w/e start a biz or open a dispensary the sky is the limit. My life should not be over at age 28 or younger 25 when I couldn't work anymore and had to I think I was actually 21 when it started now im mid 30s and like wtf all I can afford to do is go to Drs and get My medss there's more to life ffs! And more cost to live bs too which I might be able to move out my parents house! And then go in to business and the goals to get off the govt tax$ and make more than 2x what they give you in a mo. Once u make that much a week eventually u will afford to NOT need it anymore and hopefully retire from the well fare system thus being less of strain and s leech off society! It's got to n instead begin to give back & contribute instead of taking. But it shouldn't be given without discretion to everyone! But those who want it. Should have access.

  • Student Chao Ren

    3:53 Finland did a 2 year experiment recently with 2000 people and had hoped they would start more businesses and get a job, but the opposite was true. So they canceled the UBI because it doesn’t work.

  • Timothy N

    I worry about the effect it could have on inflation. I'd say I already manage my money decently well and have some savings, how will we fund a project like this, and will it long term just make the bulk of my money (which would come from working) overall be worth less? Also worried people may become lazy over entitled if they get used to UBI. The value can't come from nowhere, so unless robots are actively coming in to take on those jobs or to farm those farms and make clean food and water, that's still gotta come from somewhere.

    i.e. per inflation, if the cost makes taxes go up such that every $1 in price tag now costs $1.50, is the extra 12k a year worth a 50% cost increase of all goods? Or whatever that number may be. Or if my taxes are now doubled to fund this thing, would it be long term worth it?

    I've heard some good claims, like making sure the big companies can't evade taxes, reducing other programs into this one to fund it, etc. I'd have to hear some more to become convinced, of course getting 'free' money to everyone sounds good, and of course we all want bigger paychecks, but there's a cost somewhere, we need to make sure it's worth whatever that cost may be.

  • WrittenInFilm

    Why not just reduce taxes instead… giving people money (AKA power over people) for doing nothing means that businesses are obligated to serve people up to $1k worth of goods/services for NOTHING in return. And i say NOTHING in return because inflation will catch up. And taking money from private companies and giving it to people is called socialism. No matter how fancy you make it sound.

  • Potato Powered Hamster

    Could hardly finish this video. You marketing this to kids or something? Between the music and style of presentation, you could have fooled me.

    Shame, it's an interesting topic that's becoming more relevant by the day with the current advancements in AI + automation. Mass unemployment is a very real and present danger if we don't get ahead of this problem now. With self-driving cars on the horizon and narrow AI with deep learning already capable of doing most menial office jobs. Heck, even high skilled jobs like radiology have already been lost to AI. It's just a matter of time before its use becomes widespread and many jobs are forever gone.

  • Charles Klempner

    It would just cause super inflation that would ruin America. It also just goes against what being a free man is, give more control to your government and they will be opposite of what our constitutional framers intended on. These left wing idiots are smart but in no way wise.

  • Chad Smith

    Lol and in 2001 D.O.D couldnt account for two Trillion in spending, nobody said a word, now that americans want some relief its a big deal lol

  • Rko Singh

    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    Andrew Yang
    All the way to 2028

  • Cole Wineland

    Or maybe we just pay less in taxes? Where is this money going to come from? Are you under the impression that the government raises its own income? It doesn’t. It only takes money away from other people. We already operate at a deficit and now you want the government to pay out more money. This is dumb

  • Draconus Spiritus

    UBI is nothing but re-branding Welfare to try and get away from the stigma associated with Welfare.

    To start with, the Government cannot give you anything that it didn't first take from someone else.

    You want to give out a UBI of $1,000 per month to every household? That comes to roughly $300 BILLION per month. Where do you suppose the Government is going to get an extra $300 Billion per month? That's what it would need just to pass out that lovely UBI.

    Tax the Corporations more? How much can you tax them before they either pack up and leave or just close entirely?

  • Richard Huzzey

    There is nothing free. They take it from you as taxes and then say they are giving you money. This is a farce; if you can not manage your income,"giving "you more will not make you manage it any better. I have seen what government mandated minimum wage laws have done. Inflation, automation and reduced employment. Taadaaa at the very end she said it increased taxes.

  • Ben Jamin

    I think ubi is good it helps working poor keep up with all the elite people that dont work who are on food stamps disability free health care free daycare child tax credits I mean trumps handing out so many entitlements pretty soon I wont be able to buy a can of soup but hey at least trump is making childless adult men go to work programs for them to get food stamps because that is such a huge epidemic good job trump if you dont have the balls to get rid of all entitlements including tax breaks for people who have kids I'm voting yang

  • Jill Bont

    This was interesting but had less objective information than I had hoped for, such as amount and distribution of money, and actual economic comparability of these studies.

  • flounder

    As usual, like everything else in life, it depends. On the one hand, UBI would free up many individuals from financial hair-pulling, enabling them to focus their talents and energy on creative endeavors and become the next Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or YouTube sensation. Others, on the other hand, would simply sit and watch TV all day long, buy and eat more junk food, and have lots of children.

  • Njörun Ránsdóttir

    People only work less on current forms of Welfare because the government punishes those who report income, even when they are still below the poverty level with that income. They either have to lie about how much they are making, just to get the aid they need to make ends meet, or they have to not work and live on government housing and hope they don’t end up homeless.
    If UBI were non-taxed, given regardless of income level, not slash foodstamps and medicare / medicaid, and did not require any income reporting, you’d see a lot more poor people working legal jobs.

  • Bleeblin

    Idk why some people are so stupid they are fighting ubi. It’s inevitable if we continue advancing automation. Plus why are you fighting to have a worse life? Why are you fighting to have to work unfulfilling jobs you hate, just to make only enough to survive, and that’s what you want to do every day for the rest of your life?

  • atariDC_

    You wanna give me money and improve my life? Psht I'll pretend to be an economic expert and argue to the death against it

  • Steve Moyer

    Seems like treating money addiction as a good thing. We should be getting off of addiction in all its manifestations. No more gambling. No more drugs. But nobody talks about how giving people more money will support their addictions. It's always a discussion about "work" and how people will get lazy. Yeah, sure. But that isn't the worst of it. Look at what bad habits spring up. If you give people more power (money) without more responsibility (work).

  • Cesar E

    UBI it's a more complex idea than most people think, To be able to analyze it properly, You gotta have knowledge in Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Financial Literacy!

    To say…
    It will make people lazy.
    It's too expensive to afford it
    It will cause inflation
    It's a Socialist Idea

    All these are very shallow answers from very naive people.
    If it's implemented properly it will do more good than harm.

  • Frankie

    Why wasn’t Alaska mentioned…..they get ubi and pay for it with oil money and was passed by a republican governor almost 40 years ago

  • Xavier Long

    More money everyone has the more worthless it becomes. That’s basic scarify.

    Everyone has 1000 dollars a month or whatever it is businesses will adjust prices to account for this.

    Not to mention it’s not a good idea to reward people with money when they have poor money making habits. Then they reinforces the bad habits.

    It’ll also have the inverse effect on people who have good money making habits.

    Income redistribution doesn’t make poor people richer. It makes everybody poorer.

  • Dori Tos

    All sign indicates what we already know. Its a complete failure. Cost too much, drain too much on the working class, and makes people lazier.

  • SL Adams

    No, it won't work. There are too many people who don't want to work. It may appear to work at first, but in time it will destroy a country.

  • LivSimple

    A slight reduction in worker earnings could very well mean that employers were decreasing wages to compensate for the UBI and increasing their bottom line.

  • cerberus

    Good idea, promote laziness among the public. Tax to death the Top 20% (except government workers, and large corporations ceos), and small to medium size business, While Amazon,google,etc are paying 1% of there income.Then let the 20 percent flee the country,And shift the burden to the middle class.

    Also let just ignore a fact which is probably pretty insignificant that a ubi would cost over 3-4 trillion dollars.

  • NullPointer

    Just more nonsense from the left with their simple minded solutions. Their solution to gun crime, ban guns. Now their solution to poverty is free money. Frederic Bastiat said it best, "Government is that great fiction whereby everyone wants to live at the expense of everyone else."

  • B P

    How does reducing social welfare (effectively taking away things poor people need) to pay for universal basic income actually substantively improve the lives of poor people? They would just need to pay for the things welfare gives them. Contrast this to giving wealthy (including the super wealthy) people (who presumably have sufficient money and don’t need to use welfare) the same income (which translates into a net gain to their wealth, a very minor one, but still a gain). I’m not saying UBI is bad by itself but it needs to be done as part of a much greater reorganization of the economy away from serving profit orientation towards one with people orientation.

  • Sandy Bayes

    After listening to both sides I think it seems to be the most plausible solution to what is happening in our country right now. The thing that most convinced me is what happens to financially stressed people and the outcomes related to that. Personally I don’t think we have anything to lose by instituting a UBI and the quicker the better off our country will be.

  • B4DGER

    They are going to tax big businesses which aren't being taxed now, such as, Amazon, Google and Microsoft. They won't be taxing the average American.

  • Dude Lebowski

    Most of us don't care about "big ideas" I for example would just play more video games and watch more youtube.

  • Dude Lebowski

    Bronze Age: Work made easier by bows. Needed less labor.
    Iron Age: Work made easier by the wheel. Needed less labor.
    Middle Age: Work made easier by beasts of burden. Needed less labor.
    Renaissance: Work made easier by simple machines. Needed less labor.
    Industrial Age: Work made easier by electricity. Needed less labor.
    Nuclear Age: Work made easier by mass production. Needed less labor.
    Digital Age: Work made easier by automation. Needed less labor.
    Robotics Age: Work made easier by automation. Needed less labor.

    See a pattern here? Somehow the same inventions that destroyed labor soon showed up with a whole new line of jobs for the next generation to learn.

  • Sam Fitt

    Money that's given to people go's back into they economy creating more employment and gives people a chance to improve there lives plus reduces stress depression crime . Wait stress depression and crime makes money for the system so it's a catch 22 at the moment . Empathy is become less and less with many people these days why because some folks see that giving people money will be taken away from them . Again I think it's the way of the future think of it like this if your in business then who's going to buy your goods and services if most are to poor to do so.

  • Phil Smith

    See if UBI would eliminate homelessness first. Welfare never eliminated poverty so it's only likely to subsidize bad choices and behavior. The leftists always want to replace capitalism with utopian giveaways that never worked anywhere. Ever.

  • tim w

    Ubi has nothing to do with taxes. Yes, you get free money but it’s not enough to live on and it’s not suppose to be anyways

  • Kurt Sumthinorother

    You didn't cover much of anything about where it has been tried.
    That's a huge red flag 🚩 it's by far the most significant piece of evidence regarding success or failure. If it worked, why have all the pilot programs been scrapped? Were they simple issues or was there a fundamental human behavior that was overlooked? 3 trillion is impossible. We are a relatively young country. Up until 20 years ago we bahaved responsibly. Twenty years of spending twice the tax revenue is a generation. It seems like status quo, like we can continue to do so indefinitely.
    WE CANNOT, here's why. To get back on track, spending at today's level has to literally be cut in half. That would solve the problem right? Actually it wouldn't, because 25% of federal tax revenue is going to interest on this 130 trillion dollar debt.
    In all reality it is already impossible to pay back.
    It would take over 150 years to pay it off using all of our tax revenues and having zero government services. It is so big of a problem that people just don't talk about it. Other governments don't mind because we are paying 250 billion dollars per year in interest to them. Most of it is going to China as the largest lender. Boosting their annual revenue my 25% of us tax receipts is absolutely massive.
    War is the only inevitable endgame. Followed by a long cold winter of isolation because no one will do business with us. The writing is on the wall. The two trillion we spend now is double the taxes collected. Now candidates are talking about pushing that number up by 6 billion annually with all the proposals? 🤯 It's literally a pipe dream and absolutely impossible. We need to pass a balanced budget amendment before anything else. Then figure out as a country what we can do with the one trillion dollars we have to spend. And not a penny more. The more we spend, the faster the end of days comes. There will literally be no services, no disability, no social security. No one will come if you dial 911. That's what we are facing if we don't make some serious super harsh consolations right now. Cutting defense is not a possibility because they will come for us. They already own the country in its entirety with the 130 trillion we owe.

  • weo1weo1weo1

    umm i think for this to work properly the countries would have to first find a way to completely eliminate alcohol, drugs and cigarettes or else everyone would just kill themselves

  • Kam Chin

    Hey, Andrew Yang a US presidential candidate is the only one who wants to institute UBI if elected. Not mentioning Andrew Yang on your post is racist.

  • Travel Richie

    US govt gave money to bail out the corporations during the last recession and the population saw very little of benefits. UBI is better to solve inequality where everyone is guarantee the basics.

  • Destroyer Venom


  • Screw The Net

    Kenya is not the best example neither is Finland, or Spain. NEither is Canada as they obviously dropped it and I have learned from many ex pats that canada has messed up laws. The netherlands kinda already works, but they only help their people because they have so little diversity. What a shocker that in countries that are both melting pots or have the majority 90% of the populace , neither have such a program. Just ironic. Does that mean the netherlands is perfect thoguh? Fudge no. BUt none of the world is. I could do well enough on my own, and eventually should have what I need to survive in years to come, but a universal basic income, especially with more automation, might be both likely and extremely necessary, even at just around $10,000 ( ten thousand dollars) per person 16 and older every 6 months.

  • YouBetterThink

    It will work when the amount is low, the country will collapse if it's too high. 1000$ is way to much and will not work, at least not the next decades…

  • Snappingturtle 267

    Horrible idea, and it will not solve poverty. the wise will save it, the poor will spend it, and thus make the "wealth gap" worse.

  • Marcus Mitchell

    The problem is that, most book intelligent people have no common sense at all! They're dangerous! Absolutely BONKERS! This is going give the government full control just like socialism would! Reagan explained the dangers of this way back in 61! Enter nine words Reagan government help quote INTO YOUTUBE'S SEARCH BAR AND LOOK AT THIS QUOTE! Another thing, the projected cost for UBI is anywhere from $2.1T – $3T per year! Then, universal medicare would be cost, too! Reagan explained the side effects of that, too! And, what about the other costs of Yang's other programs, like climate change(DEBUNKED)! What's the price in the end going to be?! $6T OR MORE! BEFORE YOU VOTE FOR THIS GUY, PLEASE RESEARCH THIS INFO!!!!!!!!!

  • Art-maGination

    I will never stop working if I just get 1k month, it's not enough to support me, that's just food and cigarette money. Give me 3k tax free a month then maybe I will stop working. Money is never enough.

  • MrPCT007

    Finland has no where near the corporate wealth the USA has. Just look at Google, Walmat, Amazon, Microsoft among few others. They don't send financial aid to other countries, Israel, etc. We have too much money in the few hands and America doesn't have a voice where we spend. Too much for the military, broken healthcare system. $1000 is no where near an incentive to quit.

  • Perry Prach

    Poor create more crimes, when a individual has money the chance they will likely commit crime will reduce. Will it stop 100% from committing crimes no, but will definitely create reductions.

  • DontUputThatEvilOnMe

    I like this idea to get rid of programs like welfare, food stamps, and Medicare. But I could see were some people might use the hand out for their drug addiction instead of using it for health insurance and food.

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