The Science of Poverty


Longtime “Universal Basic Income” supporter (and self-avowed right-winger) Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry has changed his mind about the UBI. Because science:


It just so happens that the UBI is one of the very few, if not the only, domains of social science policy where we have exactly that: extensive, long-term, repeated RFTs, which are the gold standard of evidence in social science.

As RFT expert Jim Manzi writes, these experiments “tested a wide variety of program variants among the urban and rural poor, in better and worse macroeconomic periods, and in geographies from New Jersey to Seattle”; more than 30 experiments were done in the U.S. from the ’60s to the ’90s and there was another set of experiments done in Canada in the ’90s. The universal basic income is one of the few areas of social policy where we can say with some confidence “Science says…”

And science says the UBI doesn’t work.

As Manzi writes, one of the few consistent findings across all these experiments is simply this: The only type of welfare policy that reliably gets people who can work into work is a welfare policy with work requirements.

The best anti-poverty program is an unbridled and growing economy, where everyone who wants to work, can find work.

And the ones who don’t want to work? I find it hard to get excited over any potential program to lavish them with my tax dollars.


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