YC Basic Income

"The first study of basic income in the United States."

Announcement / Release
January 27, 2016
Birth Place
San Francisco, California, United States of America


Y Combinator Research is undertaking a ground-breaking research project to measure the impact of a basic income in the United States. Basic income is a bold idea to end poverty, improve economic security, and smooth the transition as technological advances and economic dynamics reshape the nature of work. Basic income is an unconditional cash transfer guaranteed to all individuals—there are no work requirements, means tests, or restrictions on how the money can be spent. Everyone receives the income individually, in an amount sufficient to cover basic needs. The gold standard for understanding a new social policy is a randomized controlled trial (RCT). By comparing a group of people who receive a basic income to an otherwise identical group of people who do not, we can isolate and quantify the effects of a basic income. We plan to randomly select individuals across two US states to participate in the study. Roughly half will receive $1,000 a month for up to five years; the rest will serve as a control group for comparison. We’re working with leading experts in economics, public health, and other fields and partnering with government agencies to collect precise administrative data. Measuring how individuals spend their time and money, indicators of mental and physical health, and effects on children and social networks will help us learn how this basic level of economic security helps people cope—and even thrive—in the midst of volatility and uncertainty.

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