Following last week’s New York Times Magazine feature on our basic income experiment, GiveDirectly had a big week in the global press. Dylan Matthews of Vox released a long, reported feature on the lives of recipients in that village. Meanwhile, the BBC reported on GiveDirectly’s standard, lump-sum cash transfers in print, radio, and TV, focusing in on how one recipients, Joseph, spent his transfer and how it changed his life.


1. This Kenyan village is a laboratory for the biggest basic income experiment ever
Vox, Dylan Matthews, March 6, 2017
So I’m eager to see if its biggest project to date works out — and if it can help put to rest, in developing countries and the rest of the world alike, the myth that the poor cannot be trusted with their own lives.

2. Basic income is progressing in the world – the three trials in Silicon Valley, the Netherlands and Kenya
YLE News, Johanna kippo and Petri Raivio, March 4, 2017
Recipients can use the money any way they like, for example, agricultural work equipment, poultry, agricultural land, or the training of children, founder Paul Niehaus says.

3. An experiment in Kenya [gated]
The Financial Times, Cardiff Garcia, March 3, 2017
Annie Lowrey discusses her recent piece in the New York Times Magazine, “The Future of Not Working”, about the implementation of a universal basic income in Kenyan villages. The pilot project is the work of GiveDirectly, a US-based nonprofit.

4. What happens when aid is given as direct cash transfers?
BBC, Alastair Leithead, March 1, 2017
In Kisumu, western Kenya, a charity called GiveDirectly has spent more than five years giving out large lump sums of money. With the strapline “We aim to reshape international giving”, it was started by a group of Harvard and MIT economics students and its impact has been closely researched.

5. Guaranteed paycheck: Does a ‘basic income’ encourage laziness?
The Christian Science Monitor, Charlie Wood, March 1, 2017
“We were really struck by the way the conversation on universal basic income comes from two totally disparate ends of spectrum,” Paul Niehaus, a co-founder of experimental cash transfer nonprofit GiveDirectly, told global development website Devex. “On one end, you have people from wealthy countries worrying about what is going to happen to people and their jobs because of automation. On the other end, you have people who are thinking about alleviating poverty and whether this very direct approach might be the right one.”

6. Why I’m a Universal Basic Income skeptic, especially for poor countries
Chris Blattman’s blog, Chris Blattman, February 27, 2017
New York Times published an article last week, titled “The Future of Not Working.” In it, Annie Lowrie discusses the universal basic income experiments in Kenya by GiveDirectly: no surprise there: you can look forward to more pieces in other popular outlets very soon, as soon as they return from the same villages visited by the Times. One paragraph of the article drew my attention in particular: “One estimate, generated by Laurence Chandy and Brina Seidel of the Brookings Institution, recently calculated that the global poverty gap — meaning how much it would take to get everyone above the poverty line — was just $66 billion. That is roughly what Americans spend on lottery tickets every year, and it is about half of what the world spends on foreign aid.”


7. Here’s how mobile technology is saving Africans from humanitarian disasters
Quartz, Abdi Latif Dahir, March 1, 2017
Somalia, for instance, a leader in mobile money, used e-cash transfer systems in 2011 to deliver aid (pdf. p. 16) to people affected by famine. During the Ebola crisis, the United Nations used Airtel and Africell mobile money services in Sierra Leone to pay health workers. In Kenya, Airtel partnered with the Kenya Red Cross in 2015 to launch a messaging alert system for floods, fires, or terrorist attacks; and Refugee United partnered with Safaricom to allow refugees to register using their mobile phones and search for loved ones through an anonymous database.


8. Utopian thinking: the easy way to eradicate poverty
The Guardian, Rutger Bregman, March 6, 2017
It’s an incredibly simple idea: universal basic income – a monthly allowance of enough to pay for your basic needs: food, shelter, education. And it’s completely unconditional: not a favour, but a right. But could it really be that simple? In the three years that followed, I read all I could find about basic income. I researched dozens of experiments that have been conducted across the globe. And it didn’t take long before I stumbled upon the story of a town that had done it, had eradicated poverty – after which nearly everyone forgot about it.

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