Universal Basic Income in the Developing World
Should developing countries give everyone enough money to live on? Interest in this idea has grown enormously in recent years, reflecting both positive results from a number of existing cash transfer programs and also dissatisfaction with the perceived limitations of piecemeal, targeted approaches to reducing extreme poverty. We discuss what we know (and what we do not) about three questions: what recipients would likely do with the incremental income, whether this would unlock further economic growth, and the potential consequences of giving the money to everyone (as opposed to targeting it).
We thank Michael Faye and Alan Krueger, our collaborators on the GiveDirectly basic income evaluation, as well as Ashu Handa, Renana Jhabvala, and Claudia and Dirk Haarmaan for helpful discussion. Mansa Saxena provided excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Paul Niehaus is an (unpaid) director of the nonprofit organization GiveDirectly referenced in the paper.