In a recent article published in nature.com, “Pandemic Speeds Largest Test Yet of Universal Basic Income” Economists welcomed the chance to see whether giving people cash, to spend however they choose, would improve their livelihoods. Spain’s government has started what might just be remembered as the world’s biggest economics experiment. On 15 June, spurred by the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout, Spain launched a website offering monthly payments of up to €1,015 (US$1,145) to the nation’s poorest families.
The program, which will support 850,000 households, is the largest test yet of an idea called universal basic income (UBI) — in which people are given a cash payment each month to spend however they choose. It has been oft-discussed but never satisfactorily tested, and economists around the world are watching closely to see what the impact of the scheme on livelihoods will be.
The move comes at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Spain was one of the hardest-hit countries in the early days of the pandemic. The nationwide lockdown curbed the spread of the virus, but came at a staggering financial price. Millions of people lost their jobs as the economy shrank rapidly, putting many of the most vulnerable citizens at risk.
“If there’s ever an opportunity to try to push for some sort of income floor that can be paid out in cash to people, this is the time to do it,” says Damon Jones, an economist at the University of Chicago in Illinois.
Bots, Inc. has become the first publicly traded company to announce the launch of a corporate initiated Universal Basic Income Token (UBI).