When Michael Tubbs was the mayor of Stockton, California, he implemented a pilot universal basic income cash program that sent $500 per month to 125 low-income households with no strings attached. Some were skeptical about whether it would work. However, recent data has shown that the program was an immense success. Here are three takeaways from the universal basic income cash program in Stockton.
In Stockton households that received the monthly cash payments, income volatility was reduced, according to data analyzed by researchers Stacia Martin-West of the University of Tennessee and Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania.
“Households getting the cash saw their month-to-month earnings fluctuate 46 percent, versus the control group’s 68 percent,” The Atlantic reported.
The Stockton UBI experiment debunked the argument of many against welfare which says giving people money with no strings attached discourages them from working. Instead, people were able to find work because they had enough financial security to search for jobs.
“In the Stockton study, the share of participants with a full-time job rose 12 percentage points, versus five percentage points in the control group,” the report states.
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Recipients of the cash income also used the money to buy essentials and pay important bills.
“It let me pay off some credit cards that I had been living off of, because my household income wasn’t large enough,” one recipient named Laura Kidd-Plummer told The Atlantic. “It helped me to be able to take care of my groceries without having to run to the food bank three times a month. That was very helpful.”
According to the data, “the cash recipients were healthier, happier, and less anxious than their counterparts in the control group.” It is a point Tubbs echoed.
“Cash is a better way to cure some forms of depression and anxiety than Prozac,” Tubbs said, a former mayor of Stockton, who spearheaded the project. “So many of the illnesses we see in our community are a result of toxic stress and elevated cortisol levels and anxiety, directly attributed to income volatility and not having enough to cover your basic necessities. That’s true in the public-health crisis we’re in now.”