There is a growing urgency, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, to reimagine the social safety net. Against this backdrop, there has been a growing interest in cash-based assistance, including guaranteed income, and universal basic income. There are many reasons for the turn towards cash, including the view that a universal basic income policy has broad-base support among constituents in an otherwise polarized environment.

In this special project, JFI researchers have taken a broad range of approaches to the question of guaranteed income in the public eye. In a U.S. nationally representative survey launched several months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we assess how cross-cutting socio-demographic and -economic characteristics affect support for basic income policies, in particular among those facing increasing economic precarity, and how the specifics of the policy—i.e. financing, eligibility and targeting—are viewed by partisan groups. We’ve reviewed the literature on framing and messaging guaranteed income, and hosted international scholars on building support for guaranteed income across political and cultural contexts.

Artwork: Man Giving Speech, ca. 1800. Smithsonian.