Details of World’s Biggest Universal Basic Income Experiment in Kenya

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Details of World's Biggest Universal Basic Income Experiment in Kenya

An ongoing experiment on Universal Basic Income (UBI) in Kenya by US charity GiveDirectly is the biggest such experiment in history.

The experiment launched earlier this year targets to enroll 16,000 recipients across 120 rural areas.

In the program, recipients get a guaranteed basic income of 2,271.50 Kenyan shillings per month, or 22 US dollars for the next 12 years. 

The money is sent directly to the beneficiaries’ mobile money accounts.

As part of the study, the long-term impact of the guaranteed income in households will be compared against outcomes in households which are not benefiting from it.

Kenyans walking in Nairobi

The charity behind the $30 million experiment is backed by big names in US technology including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire co-founder of eBay.

“Cash transfer programs can potentially help to address bigger issues facing our society, such as rising income volatility, lack of secure benefits, social instability, and the changing nature of work,” Omidyar Network representatives wrote in a past Medium post.

Beneficiaries of the scheme in Kenya use the funds primarily to run their small businesses or in purchasing necessities.

The universal income concept has been the subject of debate across the world, with some arguing that it would allow people to focus on other things knowing their necessities are taken care of.

Other analysts state that it will become necessary as more jobs become obsolete due to automation.

Many, however, maintain that it is not necessary and will only serve to encourage laziness.

 

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