Does Money Mean Happiness?
What would you do if someone gave you an extra $50 per month? How about an extra $1,000 per month?
A venture capital firm is experimenting with what advocates call “universal basic income”, saying that just because of growing automation, every citizen should get a basic paycheck. Y Combinator president Sam Altman announced on the company’s blog in May, 2016 that he was curious about what would happen if people received a salary or “universal basic income” just for being alive. They feel that this will spur more happiness, innovation and a collective boosting quality of life for everyone.
Y Combinator is trying to figure out whether people’s likelihood and willingness to work will be affected by the free cash. The company did a one year study in Oakland California. From that they came up with a plan to randomly select 3,000 people in two US states to participate in this study. 1,000 people will receive $1,000 per month for up to 5 years and 2,000 people will receive $50 per month. The people receiving $50 per month would serve as a control group for the experiment. Some proponents feel that UBI would improve people’s quality of life, while skeptics feel that it will reduce people’s willingness to work hard.
Alaska is the only place in the world that has something similar. Starting in 1982, the residents received money paid out as dividends from oil profits. In 2008, Alaskans received $2,069 per year.