Blog #3
(Part 1 of 3 on G.I.) Guaranteed Incomes will not make people lazy.

Written by
Lory Kaufman

(Part 1)
A guaranteed income (GI) will not make people lazy:

As described in this blog’s opening paper written for the Degrowth and ISEE 2021 online conference, a guaranteed income for each person on planet will not be the only income for the vast majority of adults. Most people will have other incomes. Almost all people want to work. It’s just human nature. In its purest form, work in a future world is a person doing what they’re good at, what makes them happy and what fulfills them. Most people would be compelled to work as an expression of their individuality. This is opposed to now, where the majority of people stay in jobs they don’t care about for years.

Basic Income is not a utopia, it’s a practical business plan for the next step of the human journey”
— Jeremy Rifkin

If you are among the cynical group that still believes a guaranteed income will make people lazy and not want to do other work, this was disproven in government studies done by both the United States and Canadian governments in the 1960’s and 70’s. The US held various trials where they supplied groups of citizens in six states with a guaranteed income (New Jersey Graduated Work Experiment, The Rural Income Maintenance Experiment RIME, Seattle/Denver Income Experiment SIME/RIME), and Canada did something similar in the towns of Dauphin and Mincome, Manitoba. While the experiments weren’t conducted to find out how would people’s lives be improved, but how attitudes about working diligently for employers be affected, (no surprise there) the results could be used to answer the question of whether GI would stop people from wanting to work.


Here are a few of the results;

Paid work only reduced on the average of 13%, less for men at the time and higher for women. With the average workweek at the time being 40 hours, that meant a drop in paid work to 35 hours.

Back then there were lots of jobs and people could work as much as they wanted. Put in today’s context, people working slightly less could result in people work sharing, something that is a good thing in a world where industrialized work by humans is now being displaced by technology. Of course, in today’s system employers don’t want more employees than absolutely necessary, as they would be required to pay benefits as well as having other obligations to them. This doesn’t happen in a system where healthcare is a right for citizens, provided as a social benefit along with their guaranteed basic income. And, to business people who might be baulking at the idea of GI, remember, when more people have jobs and a guaranteed income, this allows them to spend more in the economy, which is good for your business.

Another thing the study found was a guaranteed income allowed parents to spend more time at home during child rearing years. This was the major part of the 13% drop in hours worked. Of course, as it was the 1960s and 70s, the study showed that it was women who stayed home, as well as working for lower wages. Nowadays it could be either parent, but the result is the same. Children are better taken care of.

Related to this, the study showed how teenagers in poorer areas put off getting part-time jobs to help the family survive, allowing them to concentrate on their education. The result was that in Canada there was a marked decrease in the high school dropout rate. In the USA, there was a more than double-digit increase in high school graduation in half the US cities. Therefore, it could be postulated that a guaranteed income would then totally change the lives of poorer parents and children in cities and towns where manufacturing has left their regions. In fact, a guaranteed income would be the number one reason for uplifting the educational, productivity and happiness indexes in countries where this is a problem. Society-wide, it would shorten the ascent out of poverty for the majority of the poor by several generations, if not immediately. This is true not only for poor whites and blacks in first-world countries, but also indigenous populations everywhere, where hundreds of years of oppression still has a high percentage of them poor and unfulfilled.

For a man or woman who chooses to stay home with the kids or an elderly parent, a guaranteed income remunerates them for their work, which is a good investment for society. As well, the elderly or infirm person could use their GI to pay the caregiver, giving the one looked after a sense that they are paying their way, as well as giving their caregiver a fair payment for their work. Put in this light, a guaranteed income helps people in an automated world, where their menial labor is not needed. After all, they are doing the important and valuable work of keeping the core of society, family, strong.

What happened to these studies? Nothing. They were shelved in the USA. And the data from the Canadian study wasn’t even compiled until forty years later by three researchers at the University of Manitoba; Wayne Simpson, Greg Mason and Ryan Godwin

The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly
by a now widely discussed measure: The guaranteed income.”

–Martin Luther King
Note: As stated, the US studies were apparently done to see if GI would change workers attitudes about working diligently for employers. But one thing I haven’t researched was why were financial leaders of the time actually considering it, and what the actual conclusions were. Finally, why the programs were abandoned. If someone knows, please advise this blog.
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