Legacy safety net programs in the United States are inefficient and inadequate in supporting the financially insecure – a reality made painfully apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ample research has shown that unrestricted cash assistance can not only alleviate material hardship among the most vulnerable but also improve physical and mental wellbeing, child welfare, educational attainment, and more. Decades of advocacy and research into guaranteed income – whether a universal basic income or direct cash transfers through the tax system – offer a vision for a government whose support is more universal, less administratively burdensome, and more respectful of the dignity of ordinary people.
Since 2017, before the concept gained mainstream recognition, JFI has evaluated the feasibility of unconditional cash transfers and how they might be best situated among existing aspects of the social safety net in the United States & abroad. We have helped build guaranteed income pilots; conducted field evaluations on the efficacy and impact of cash programs, including the world’s largest in Maricá, Brazil; advised state and federal lawmakers on relevant legislative reforms, including the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC); and provided expert commentary to media and advocates on the state (and the future) of the field. Most recently, we have begun to sketch a vision for how the now myriad guaranteed income demonstrations can be translated into sustainable policy – and thereby help address our nation’s deepening inequality.
PARTNER WITH US
While JFI continues to share design and strategy expertise with pilots, we are increasingly focused on policy design: how cash transfers can make our social safety net work better for the working and middle classes, and what financing mechanisms can help sustain them. To that end, we provide policymakers (mayors, state legislators, economic development teams, etc.) and advocates with policy analysis, including microsimulations of proposed legislation and studies of interactions among existing programs. We are eager to partner with individuals or institutions to extend this work internationally – and to expand our field of study beyond traditional guaranteed income / UBI into other social programs (e.g. housing, healthcare) where the principles of unconditional cash may be beneficial.
Guaranteed Income Tools & Resources
A collection of materials for practitioners and policymakers.
- Toolkit for creating a guaranteed income in your community: Our toolkit, published May 2021 and available here, provides a concrete starting point for anyone interested in supporting a guaranteed income for their community, particularly by launching a guaranteed income pilot. It begins by answering some of the key questions that arise in this undertaking, including what guaranteed income is, why it is gaining attention right now, what the open questions are that a pilot might answer, and what is involved in the creation of a local pilot.
- How to frame guaranteed income policy: a review of literature: This review of literature, published May 2021, covers a range of important guaranteed income messaging questions.
- Exploring a framework for federal policy: Find our white paper series, “From Idea to Reality: Getting to Guaranteed Income,” here. The series is an in depth examination into how to implement guaranteed income in the U.S.
- JFI Position on Guaranteed Income: Our research-informed guidance on basic parameters for guaranteed income.
Research and Development for the Compton Pledge
We partnered with former Compton mayor Aja Brown and Fund for Guaranteed Income (F4GI) founder Nika Soon-Shiong on design, strategy, and research on this 800-recipient guaranteed income pilot in Compton, California.
Guaranteed Income Contributors
Vice President, Lead Researcher for Policy
Director of Research
Related Publication Series
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