How Does Basic Income Impact Lives?

With basic income, families know they can count on some support, no matter what happens to agricultural prices or weather. Sudden illness, disability or unpredictable economic events wouldn’t be as financially devastating. There is also a negative correlation between low income and increased risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, respiratory disease, lung cancer and decreased life expectancy, as well as mental health and major depression.¹

A guaranteed income experiment in Canada (Mincome) noted improvements in the physical, mental and functional health of low-income people. Students in Dauphin (the experimental community) were more likely to enroll in high school. Women under 25 years of age were significantly less likely to give birth compared to the controls after Mincome was implemented. Before Mincome, residents were more likely to be hospitalized, to spend more days in the hospital, and to have longer stays than the controls. Between 1973 and 1978, the hospitalization rate in Dauphin declined by 19.23 per 1,000 residents. The introduction of a basic income is associated with substantial and significant reduction in healthcare utilization. If healthcare utilization is inversely related to health statutes, then a basic income is good for your health.

The National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper in the fall of 2015 that studied what happened to a group of Native American children whose families received an unexpected and significant increase in their annual income, thanks to a cash benefit from a casino built on their tribe’s reservation, which increased the annual income of families by about 20 percent. The families who received the benefit thrived; researchers found that the money improved relationships between spouses as well as between parents and children. Parents drank less, and children exhibited lower rates of emotional and behavioral health issues.

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¹ McIntyre, Lynn, et al. “Impact of a Guaranteed Annual Income Program on Canadian Seniors’ Physical, Mental and Functional Health.” Canadian Public Health Journal, vol. 107.

By: Elaina Colussi
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