The promises of elusive maharanis, and no-strings-attached money
In Abhijit Banerjee's 'Tasting economics' column in The Times of India, the co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Nobel Laureate in economics, reflects on optimism in the new year, while sharing early results of the world's largest universal basic income (UBI) scheme, currently being conducted in Kenya over the course of 12 years.
Abhijit writes, 'And the results do not disappoint. For one, there is no evidence that getting UBI makes people lazy. They work more overall, not less, though the difference is small. They do cut back on working for others but instead are working more on their own projects. The number of non-farming businesses (think shops, eating places) associated with these villages is almost a third higher than the villages where no intervention happened, and the number of farming businesses (think poultry, goat-herding) goes up too. As a result, earnings are about 20% higher than in the control villages. The fact that the 12-year UBI money is there for the foreseeable future seems to have made the villagers better able or more willing to take on something new. They also eat better, are less depressed and more likely to say that they are happy.'
Abhijit leaves readers with his recipe for a low-sugar cucumber mint cocktail, for a toast to the new year.