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posted by martyb on Thursday January 20, @01:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the of-course-nobody-ever-gets-bored dept.

Study: Basic income would not reduce people's willingness to work:

A basic income would not necessarily mean that people would work less. This is the conclusion of a series of behavioral experiments by cognitive psychologist Fenna Poletiek, social psychologist Erik de Kwaadsteniet and cognitive psychologist Bastiaan Vuyk. They also found indications that people with a basic income are more likely to find a job that suits them better.

The psychologists received a grant from the FNV union to research the behavioral effects of a basic income. They simulated the reward structure of different forms of social security in an experiment. "We got people to do a task on a computer," says De Kwaadsteniet. "In multiple rounds, which represented the months they had to work, they did a boring task in which they had to put points on a bar. The more of these they did, the more money they earned."

The psychologists researched three different conditions: no social security, a conditional benefits system and an unconditional basic income. De Kwaadsteniet: "In the condition without social security, the test participants didn't receive a basic sum. In the benefits condition they received a basic sum, which they lost as soon as they started working. In the basic income condition they received the same basic sum but didn't lose this when they started work."

The basic income did not cause a reduction in the participants' willingness to work and efforts, say the psychologists. Nor did their salary expectations increase. "In the discussion on a basic income, it's sometimes said that people will sit around doing nothing if you give them free money," says Poletiek, who saw no indications of such a behavioral effect.

What would you do if you were to receive a basic income?


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by darkfeline on Thursday January 20, @01:26AM (22 children)

    by darkfeline (1030) on Thursday January 20, @01:26AM (#1214020) Homepage

    Of course if you received basic income as part of a study, you would still seek work. When the study ends you no longer have it. (TFA doesn't link to the experiments so I can't comment on if they controlled for this; my guess is no.) There are also social effects; if you're the only one receiving a basic income and the rest of your friends are working, you are incentivized to work because you can't hang out with your friends and society as a whole still looks down on you if you're unemployed. There's also the question of who's paying for it. Receiving a basic income funded by grant money is one step removed from receiving a basic income funded by your own taxed income if you work (grant money is not provided exclusively from taxpayers).

    This provides no information about the long term, society-wide effects (to speak nothing of the economic effects) of deploying basic income.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @02:03AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @02:03AM (#1214027)

    The idea is it's enough to live on, but not enough to *live* on.

    Provides enough money for students to pay the rent and buy groceries. But if they want to do what young people do - buy fancy cars, save for a house, buy the latest iPhone, go out to expensive concerts and socialize then get working.

    Who pays for it? Well we all pay taxes, and you'd pay more tax but get less rorting deductions.

    where it matters is early retirement - a couple in their late 50s needed feel demonized at not being able to find a job once they've paid off the house and their kids have left home. Why chase unemployment benefits for jobs that don't exist years before you're eligible for a pension or superannuation? That in turn frees up the labor market for young folks.

    • (Score: 2) by Nobuddy on Friday January 21, @05:25PM

      by Nobuddy (1626) on Friday January 21, @05:25PM (#1214539)

      "Who pays for it?"

      Money put in to the economy at the bottom always returns more tax revenue than spent. Every time.
      People who need it, spend it. Spending it puts it in motion, generating far more revenue than existed before.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by vux984 on Thursday January 20, @02:26AM (1 child)

    by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 20, @02:26AM (#1214033)

    as a whole still looks down on you if you're unemployed

    Cultural/Societal pressures will continue to exist.

    When the study ends you no longer have it.

    Vs you may note have it after the next election cycle? :p

    This provides no information about the long term, society-wide effects (to speak nothing of the economic effects) of deploying basic income.

    That's not really what they were studying though. And the only way to study the 'society-wide effects over the long term' would be to study it on a group large enough to be a 'society' over pretty long time. Ie... implement it somewhere "for realsies" so i don't know what you are asking for here? Because it seems like you want someone to produce a study that can't exist.

    I doubt it would affect people much on the middle to above average salary scales much whatsoever; I actually like working, and would continue to work, so I'm not taking a massive pay cut to sit on my ass.
    I think it would increase the cost of labor for lower wage jobs, particularly those that nobody much wants to do; as you won't be able to rely on people being desperate enough to eat and feed their family to take those jobs anymore. This probably is not a bad thing for society as a whole.

    I also think it would enable a lot of wage-slaves to try their hands at being entrerpreneurs and starting their own businesses and so forth. This is probably a good thing for the economy and society as a whole. There's a lot of people with good ideas that can't afford the risk they'll fail.

    It will also increase job mobility; as people will be able to afford to quit jobs they don't like and look for another one. Right now there are a lot of people are literally trapped. The work

    The elephant in the room of course is whether a big chunk of lower/middle earners will decide 'welfare' is good enough and just become unproductive. That's definitely going to be some people. How many I don't know. It's hard to study, but that is what a lot of UBI studies are attempting to get some insight into.

    And perhaps equally importantly is that there is another group of people who find even the idea that these mooches will exist so objectionable "on principle" that they'd much rather burn it all down than let them exist -- even if it proved to be a net benefit to society and the economy overall.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by cmdrklarg on Thursday January 20, @10:28PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @10:28PM (#1214374)

      And perhaps equally importantly is that there is another group of people who find even the idea that these mooches will exist so objectionable "on principle" that they'd much rather burn it all down than let them exist -- even if it proved to be a net benefit to society and the economy overall.

      Right! We can't have those poor moochers get something they didn't earn; that's the wealthy's job!

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday January 20, @03:04AM (15 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Thursday January 20, @03:04AM (#1214043)

    They've done a bunch of other studies and experiments on it, offering basic income to everybody in particular geographical areas. It's an idea with enough traction that lots of places are seriously considering it.

    Some of the societal impacts are:
    1. Poverty goes down, a lot. Because the whole point of basic income is that it's enough to survive on, and the first things people tend to use it for are rent, food, and utilities.
    2. Some of the people who have been stuck in crappy jobs that don't pay well but they can't afford to leave end up quitting and either getting better jobs or starting their own business.
    3. Because of the previous point, the power dynamics between bosses and employees are dramatically different. You know how libertarians invariably justify whatever happens in a workplace on the idea of "if you don't like it, just quit"? Well, now they can quit without risking homelessness and/or starvation, so the bosses have to change how the workplace functions.
    4. On the flip side, the desire / need for unionizing drops, because no matter what, you and your family won't starve.
    5. Those stuck in abusive domestic situations use their economic security to aid their escape.

    As for how to pay for it, I'm going to use the US for an example country here: If you figure that the basic income is about $18,000 per adult per year, and $4500 per child per year (going to their parents/guardians), then the whole thing would cost $5 trillion, or approximately 1/4 of the US GDP. Now, you could reasonably frame this program as "Social Security for All", replacing current Social Security (budget: $1.3 trillion), and a significant percentage of other current social welfare programs (budget: $1.1 trillion), so now you're talking about how to come up with about $2.6 trillion in additional cash for this. That's still a big number, but now we're at 13% of the GDP, which is starting to look pretty achievable, at least in theory.

    And frankly, some sort of measure like that would be necessary to prevent popular revolt if most people's jobs get taken over by robots [soylentnews.org]. A basic rule of life is that starving people do whatever they can think of to get food, and that includes seizing it by force. Heck, the powers that be right now are very lucky that the rising homeless populations haven't fought back all that seriously against police violence directed at them.

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    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:25AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @08:25AM (#1214094)

      13% of the GDP, which is starting to look achievable

      But how will we fund the military without cheap bodies labor and a huge budget allotment?

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by darkfeline on Thursday January 20, @09:27AM (8 children)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Thursday January 20, @09:27AM (#1214104) Homepage

      > Poverty goes down

      Citation needed. Money doesn't reduce poverty. Having access to goods reduces poverty. You can't eat money.

      "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Teach everyone how to fish and everyone starves."

      The US housing crash was due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance. The US student debt crisis is due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance. Surely, third time's the charm?

      Just food for thought (you can't eat it, but maybe it will prevent empty shelves in your near future).

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      • (Score: 3, Touché) by maxwell demon on Thursday January 20, @09:46AM

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Thursday January 20, @09:46AM (#1214107) Journal

        Citation needed.

        Well, the citation obviously would be any of the studies Thexalon was talking about.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @09:48AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @09:48AM (#1214108)

        disrupting natural economic balance

        There's no such thing as natural economic balance. There's a natural balance between predator and prey, but one economic predator can prey on an unlimited number of prey, and even when there's zero prey an economic predator will not starve.

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by SpockLogic on Thursday January 20, @01:57PM (1 child)

        by SpockLogic (2762) on Thursday January 20, @01:57PM (#1214147)

        "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

        In the US that would be "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day."

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        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday January 20, @03:42PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @03:42PM (#1214187) Journal

          Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.

          Give a man a match and you keep him warm for the evening.

          Teach him how to start a fire Set him on fire and you keep him warm for the rest of his life.

          --
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      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday January 20, @02:55PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Thursday January 20, @02:55PM (#1214162)

        Money doesn't reduce poverty. Having access to goods reduces poverty.

        You use the money to buy things. Duh. As for the goods they're buying - there's more vacant housing in the US than there are homeless people, there's more food being thrown away than would be enough to feed every hungry person in America, it's not like there isn't more than enough stuff to go around.

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      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:08PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:08PM (#1214251)

        The US housing crash was due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance. The US student debt crisis is due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance. Surely, third time's the charm?

        Oh dear, it's clown school here. There should be some kind of meme for this.

        ........... was due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance.

        (a) Clean running water
        (b) Labor protection
        (c) I got mine, fuck y'all

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @07:22AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @07:22AM (#1214467)

        The US housing crash was due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance. The US student debt crisis is due to government intervention disrupting natural economic balance. Surely, third time's the charm?

        No, that's simply not true. The laissez faire capitalism you advocate for inherently leads to extreme inequality and civil unrest. That experiment has failed many times, but you seem intent on repeating it. The failures of laissez faire were one of the major causes of the French Revolution. The underlying principle of laissez faire capitalism is that markets are efficient and government influence will always make them less efficient. If economics were held to the same standard as the physical sciences, laissez faire capitalism would have been discarded long ago, because there is ample evidence supporting that the lack of government regulation often leads to inefficient outcomes.

        The economic crises you describe are not because the government regulated the market, but that the government did a poor job of regulating the market. The problem isn't Keynesian economic theory, but that the government doesn't actually practice the ideas of Keynes. Governments tend to regulate the market to promote growth, but politicians generally oppose interventions to prevent the growth of bubbles. Regulation isn't the problem, but rather that governments generally only practice the half of Keynesian theory about promoting economic growth. Politicians generally don't want interventions that slow the market to prevent the growth of bubbles, instead wanting more growth and allowing bubbles to expand.

        With respect to student loans, a big part of the problem is that employers generally expect a college education for all but the lowest paying jobs, regardless of whether a college education is actually necessary to do the job. This is coupled with the excesses of university administrations and decreasing public funding for institutions of higher education. If we increased public funding for higher education, reversing the trend of budget cuts, and restricted abuses by administrators, we could lower the cost of a college education. As for the failures of the labor market, they could be addressed by mandating a second minimum wage threshold for jobs posted where a college education is required. If it becomes more expensive to require a college education, businesses would change their hiring practices. We could reverse the trend toward requiring a college degree with a bit of common sense regulation.

        The laissez faire capitalism you support has a very long list of failures and belongs in the trash can of history.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, @06:04PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 22, @06:04PM (#1214825)

          Let me know when the 10 point, single-space printed book of federal regulations (to say nothing of state additions) is small enough not to choke a horse.

          Until then, laissez-faire capitalism is about as scary as vampire tooth fairies, because it's as imaginarily hypothetical.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @02:36AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @02:36AM (#1214431)

      how to come up with about $26 trillion in 10 years

      We can't afford that! Are you nuts?! $10 trillion in 10 years for Berniecare was already too much!

    • (Score: 2) by Nobuddy on Friday January 21, @05:32PM (1 child)

      by Nobuddy (1626) on Friday January 21, @05:32PM (#1214542)

      Can you link those studies? Honest request. I read everything I can get on basic income- pro or con. I would really like scientific peer reviewed studies, but large scale social experiments are also good to read.

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Saturday January 22, @04:07AM

        by Thexalon (636) on Saturday January 22, @04:07AM (#1214707)

        This Vox article [vox.com] seems to have a good overview. Governments and non-profits all over the world have tried it on various scales, and generally gotten valuable results in which most of the dire predictions of everyone just sitting around just don't come to pass. Experiments with universal basic income have been going on since the 1970's, although what qualifies as a UBI probably is a bit fuzzy.

        Part of why UBI doesn't lead to unemployment is the simple fact that you get it whether or not you're employed. As things stand, if an unemployed person gets a minimum-wage job working 15 hours a week, their income is likely to go down because they'll qualify for fewer government support programs with that meager income. Whereas under UBI, that same person gets their UBI plus whatever wages they can earn, so their income will always go up from being employed.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @05:54PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @05:54PM (#1214554)
      If I got USD18,000/year tax free for doing nothing I'd probably stop working. Well in theory I might start working on a novel or some coding project. But I might take many years to complete those... Or never... ;)

      Don't forget USD18,000/year goes a much longer way in many other countries around the world.

      Fortunately most US folk will stay in the USA, so you could still make the assumption that much of the $18,000 per person will reenter the US economy.

      But that might not be true for some other countries. If there are no restrictions their people might start having holidays in Thailand, Bali etc and rarely return. Then much of that $18,000 will go to other countries.
      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Saturday January 22, @04:09AM

        by Thexalon (636) on Saturday January 22, @04:09AM (#1214708)

        I will just say, anecdotally, that at one point I found myself with plenty of money, a job lined up to start in 3 weeks, and leaving my old job immediately rather than giving notice.

        Week 1 was great, a nice vacation.
        Week 2 was still pretty good, I got through some video games I enjoyed, read some books, that sort of thing.
        By the end of week 3, though, I was ready to be back doing useful stuff. I think a lot of people who have never been in that position for a long period of time have underestimated how boring it actually is.

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  • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday January 20, @06:10PM

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday January 20, @06:10PM (#1214252) Homepage Journal

    No experiment is useless. I'm personally glad that my assumptions when I write science fiction aren't bullshit. In my fictional future everybody gets a government check because there are very few jobs, but people still work.

    I retired in 2014, now instead of maintaining small Illinois government databases I'm writing books, and giving them away. Before I retired they asked "but what will you DO?" My answer was "any damned thing I want to do!"

    --
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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 20, @08:05PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 20, @08:05PM (#1214317)

    This provides no information about the long term, society-wide effects (to speak nothing of the economic effects) of deploying basic income.

    Agreed. Let's roll out UBI now and start collecting that missing information - as you say: there's no other way to get it.

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