Universal basic income experiments are popping up all over Europe
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Universal basic income experiments are popping up all over Europe


Image: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

More Europeans are about to get some free money in the name of economics research.

The European Union is funding a new universal basic income experiment in Barcelona alongside similar tests in Helsinki and the Dutch city of Ultrecht.

Around 1,000 low-income households in one of the city’s poorest districts will be randomly selected to receive monthly payments of between €400 ($450) and €525 ($590) for two years. All told, the three programs will cost the EU €13 million ($14.7 million).

The study is the latest in a series of research efforts launched across the globe in recent months to put the policy to the test in a real-world setting.  

The idea of a universal basic income — a system in which a government would give every citizen equal no-strings-attached payments — has been gaining traction lately thanks in part to endorsements from big-name Silicon Valley moguls (most recently Mark Zuckerberg) and the looming threat of automation-driven job loss

Already this year, experiments have been announced or launched in Ontario, Oakland, and Uganda in addition to the European trials.

A survey earlier this year found that seven in 10 Europeans would vote for a UBI policy if given the chance.

Despite the supposed popular support, though, the people of Switzerland resoundingly voted down a countrywide proposal in a referendum last year. 

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) —  an intergovernmental group of free-market democracies — also concluded in a policy brief last month that a UBI implemented across European countries would require substantial tax hikes in order to match the poverty line.  

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June 3, 2017
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