top of page

GiveDirectly: Can Universal Basic Income Eliminate Poverty?

© GiveDirectly

What are the impacts of a universal basic income? And how do they compare with other forms of assistance?r

GiveDirectly delivers unconditional (no strings attached) cash transfers to some of the world’s poorest households. Recipients receive payments in digital currency and are empowered to spend the money based on their own prioritization. Independent randomized trials show that cash delivered in this manner has significant effects on a broad range of outcomes, including income, assets, and psychological well-being.

To up the ante, literally and figuratively, GiveDirectly has decided to try to permanently end extreme poverty across dozens of villages and thousands of people in Kenya by guaranteeing an ongoing income high enough to meet basic needs—a universal basic income, or basic income guarantee.

The concept of a basic income guarantee has long-been debated around with the globe, with early proponents like Martin Luther King Jr and Richard Nixon, spanning the political spectrum. These days, pilots are being considered by Finland’s center-right government and Canada’s liberal party, with support from libertarians from the Cato Institute as well as liberals from the Brookings Institution. The stakes in these debates are enormous, with trillions of dollars of social spending under review: Should we move from a patchwork system of overlapping poverty-reduction programs, administered separately to address different issues (nutrition, housing, employment) to simply guaranteeing a basic income? What would happen if we did?

Read more from The Life You Can Save here.

bottom of page