The Jain Family Institute


Basic Income

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. Guaranteed income is a promising option, and JFI is building multiple pilots across the US to generate reliable evidence to support analysis of basic income and the broader suite of related policies.


The social, psychological and economic effects of unconditional cash in the developed world have been difficult to predict and observe; data is integral to informing and facilitating new policies. JFI conducts a wide range of research on basic income and related policies and theories. Along with producing original research papers, literature reviews, and general-interest articles and posts, we investigate the effects of cash transfers and improving basic income policy—from generating macroeconomic models to better anticipate the economic effects of various basic income programs, to evaluating and applying metrics and methods used in related fields.  


As interest grows in understanding the effects and feasibility of basic income, there is an As interest grows in understanding the effects and feasibility of basic income, there is an increasing need to test it in the real world. JFI works with other non-profits, research institutions, cities and municipalities on every stage of basic income pilot design.

The core elements of this work include:

  • evaluating and hiring project leads and investigators

  • assembling academic advisory boards

  • developing study design

  • generating and testing sampling methods, and other research instruments

  • building connections with expert advisors in social science, economics, and policy

JFI is currently working on basic income pilots in various stages of development throughout the U.S., including the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), The Chicago Resilient Families Task Force initiative, and a large-scale pilot in a major East Coast city.  We also maintain collaborative relationships with numerous other pilots of basic income-adjacent policies throughout the country.

Unifying the Field

Adequate study of guaranteed basic 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. By using a common set of tools and metrics, researchers can ensure that their studies contribute to an ever-growing database that can inform and expand the field. JFI is working with partners to develop a set of standards that make this possible, convening teams from across the world working on cash transfer pilots and studies.

Michael Stynes