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As Stockton launches universal basic income project, we discuss benefits and drawbacks

Cars drive through downtown Stockton April 29, 2008 in Stockton, California.
Cars drive through downtown Stockton April 29, 2008 in Stockton, California.
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Amidst rising housing costs and wage stagnation, two years out from recovering from its bankruptcy, the California city of Stockton is experimenting with an idea that has long been debated by academia, but has rarely been tested on the ground: universal basic income.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs is launching the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), the first municipal level project that will give a few dozen families in the city $500 per month for a year. The idea is to provide economic stimulus and eliminate poverty.

Proponents of universal basic income come from all over the political spectrum. Some thinkers argue that it should replace the welfare system and that the resulting safety net would incentivize more entrepreneurship.

But critics point to issues of efficiency and effectiveness, as well as the possibility that guaranteed income would dis-incentivize people from working.

What will we learn from the SEED project in Stockton? What are the benefits and drawbacks of a universal basic income?


David Neumark, professor of Economics and director of the Economic Self-Sufficiency Policy Research Institute at UC Irvine

Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast and professor of economics