The Swiss will soon be considering a referendum on guaranteed basic income for all their citizens. The vote hasn’t happened yet, but for some more background, check out Tim Harford’s backgrounder.
Bottom line: Cash transfers have the strongest track records we’ve seen for a non-health intervention. We continue to guess that the interventions conducted by our top-rated health charities are stronger in terms of cost-effectiveness, but believe that the gap may be small.
My thesis is that the welfare class in America is completely screwed up due to our country’s historical Christian roots. Tying basic economic aid to superstitious religious theories is morally reprehensible, and a disservice to humanity.
Managing a direct cash transfer program seems so much more efficient, effective, and ethical to me than trying to manage the crazy combination of SNAP, Medicaid, welfare, Head Start, and the zillions of other programs that I’ve never even heard of out there to make life less miserable for the less well off.
No matter what the voters of Switzerland think (their vote hasn’t occurred yet), our country could vastly improve taking care of our own underclasses by taking this idea and running with it.