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Our Work

Guaranteed Income

Guaranteed Income

Introduction

We build pilots, design policy, and conduct research on guaranteed income alongside international partners in government, philanthropy, and academia.

The nature of work is changing, and in an era of widening inequality, legacy social safety net programs are inadequate and inefficient. Our society has the resources to raise the standard of living for all people, and the responsibility to find the most just and efficient means.

Since 2016, we’ve worked to study direct cash transfer programs and basic income initiatives in the US and around the world. We have built out a global network of fellows, advisors, and partners that provides a unique view into the variety of ways cash transfer programs can be structured and implemented.

Working with us

If you’re interested in working with us, email jfi@jainfamilyinstitute.org. We primarily partner with policymakers, local government officials (mayors, state representatives and senators, economic development teams within cities, etc), academics, and foundations. We provide research expertise and local insights on all aspects of guaranteed income policy. Our areas of knowledge include pilot and research design, strategy, operationalization, and implementation; assembly of academic advisory boards; consulting on cash transfer legislation, policy, and media; and analysis.

Scholarship

In the literature on guaranteed income, there are many open questions, from details like the optimal size and frequency of the transfer, to policy considerations around eligibility and universality, to the problem of funding, to concerns about detrimental interactions with other benefits, to uncertainty about large-scale societal and economic effects. The social, psychological, and economic impacts of unconditional cash have been difficult to predict and observe. Data is integral to informing and facilitating new policies.

JFI conducts a wide range of interdisciplinary research on guaranteed income and related policies and theories, with a focus on defining and investigating those open questions, through pilot design, program evaluation, macroeconomic modeling, and sovereign wealth fund research.

Pilot Design

JFI designs and implements pilots and conducts research to evaluate their impacts. This includes assembling academic advisory boards and building connections with expert advisors in social science, economics, and policy; developing analysis plans and data collection instruments; writing grants; and, where warranted, taking on the role of primary investigators.

We work with other nonprofits, research institutions, cities and municipalities at every stage to create pilot-for-policy design that suits the community.

In the US, we have helped to create research or pilot designs in Stockton, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Newark, New Jersey, among other places. We have worked closely with sister organizations including the Economic Security Project, the Stanford Basic Income Lab, and the Magnolia Mothers Trust.

Policy Evaluation

As interest in guaranteed income and UBI grows, more municipalities around the world are implementing cash transfer policies.

Since 2019, we have collaborated with the city of Maricá, Brazil to evaluate the Citizens’ Basic Income policy, one of the largest implementations of guaranteed income in history. Our bilingual website maricabasicincome.com contains comprehensive information about the study, publications, advisory board, news, and more.

With our partners at the Federal Fluminense University (UFF), a prominent public research university in neighboring Niterói, Brazil, we’ve designed multiple analyses and evaluations of the program’s impact on Maricá’s citizens, in addition to helping the city find how it can most effectively use its revenue to support a guaranteed income in the long term. We’ve begun a mixed-methods study that combines semi-structured interviews with quantitative analysis. We also work closely with RBRB, the Brazilian Basic Income Network, in support of their work of guaranteed income implementation across Brazil.

Domestically, we’ve provided expert testimony in the New York City Council and for the Alaska State Legislature on their cash transfer programs.

Unifying the Field

To study guaranteed income requires combining research from multiple disciplinary approaches; to take maximum advantage of the information offered by multiple studies, however, requires strategic and systematic thinking about their design. In our high-level research initiatives, we shift from our specific applied projects to take a wider, collaborative view.

First, we are responding to the Covid-19 crisis and the increasing prominence of guaranteed income in an upcoming series of papers that lay out what is needed, and what the research shows, for a large-scale policy: the necessary infrastructure, the ideal benefit, the financing, and the political viability.

Second, we are taking on one of the hardest (and most under-discussed) questions in the field–the question of funding–through research; convening experts in sovereign and social wealth funds, finance, and impact investing; and partnerships with municipalities.

Partners

  • Berkeley Opportunity Lab
  • Brazilian Basic Income Network
  • Chicago Resilient Families Initiative Task Force
  • Columbia SIPA
  • Economic Development Corporation of NYC
  • Economic Security for Illinois
  • Economic Security Project
  • Federal Fluminense University of Nitéroi, Brazil
  • The Heartland Alliance
  • John Jay College, CUNY - Dept. of Economics
  • The Newark Alliance
  • Newark Community Economic Development Corporation
  • New York University
  • North American Basic Income Congress
  • Office of Alaska State Sen. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins
  • Office of Massachusetts State Sen. Eldridge
  • Princeton University
  • Russell Sage Foundation
  • Springboard to Opportunities
  • Secretariat of the Solidarity Economy, City of Maricá, Brazil
  • Stanford Basic Income Lab
  • Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration and the City of Stockton
  • United States Basic Income Congress
  • University of British Columbia

Q&A

  • What is a guaranteed income? 

  • What’s the difference between guaranteed income and a cash transfer program? What’s the difference between conditional and unconditional programs? 

  • What is basic income? 

  • What is Universal Basic Income or UBI? 

  • How is guaranteed income different from existing benefit programs in the United States? 

  • If a guaranteed income program were to be implemented, would recipients have to give up any existing benefits they qualify for? 

  • Some people talk about guaranteed income and automation together. What is the relationship between guaranteed income and automation? 

  • What are some other arguments in support of creating a guaranteed income policy such as universal basic income? 

  • What are some arguments against creating a guaranteed income policy such as universal basic income? 

  • Does UBI have broader effects on the economy? 

  • Does the Jain Family Institute study the impact of guaranteed income policies on inflation? 

  • Does the research show that guaranteed income cash transfer recipients quit their jobs and spend the money on alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs? 

  • So what does the research show? How do people spend their money? 

  • How do we study what the recipients spend the cash transfer money on? 

  • Are any guaranteed income pilots or policies currently operating in the US, and how much money do participants receive? 

  • How are these pilots being funded (both the disbursement and research)? 

  • How would a policy for an entire city, state, or country be funded? 

  • Why conduct more pilots? 

  • What's the history of guaranteed income? 

  • Does the Jain Family Institute advocate a full-scale guaranteed income policy? 

  • Does the Jain Family Institute work with any guaranteed income projects that are currently underway? 

  • What else does the Jain Family Institute do on guaranteed income? 

  • Can I be a guaranteed income recipient in a UBI pilot? 

  • How can I get involved in a pilot/demonstration? 

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