Economists Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and Mohammad H. Mostafavi-Dehzooeifrom for the Economic Research Forum have released a new report on the results of a basic income scheme launched in Iran in 2011. “In 2011, in response to heavy cuts to oil and gas subsidies, Iran implemented a program that guaranteed citizens cash payments of 29 percent of the nation’s median income, which amounts to about $1.50 every day (about $16,000 per year in the U.S.),” reports The Outline. Here are the key findings: The report found no evidence for the idea that people will work less under a universal income, and found that in some cases, like in the service industry, people worked more, expanding their businesses or pursuing more satisfying lines of work. The researchers did find that young people — specifically people in their twenties — worked less, but noted that Iran never had a high level of employment among young people, and that they were likely enrolling in school with the added income. The evidence presented in the paper is compelling, but the anecdotal belief that handing people money will make them lazy is hard to shake. “The findings in this paper do not settle this question,” the report’s authors point out. “What we have accomplished is at the very least to shift the burden of proof on this issue to those who claim cash transfer [sic] make poor people lazy, and to show the need for better data and more research.”
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