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Basic income experiment in Stockton: details about the trial



Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs
Mayor Michael Tubbs responds to a question during his appearance
before the Sacramento Press Club, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in
Sacramento, California.


  • Stockton, California, will begin an 18-month basic
    income trial in February 2019.
  • 100 residents will receive $500 each month, with no
    restrictions on how the money can be spent. 
  • Researchers will check in with the recipients
    throughout the trial to figure out how basic income affects
    people’s health and financial security. 
  • This will be the first major basic income trial in the
    United States. The pilot follows the recent cancellation of a
    three-year basic income experiment in Ontario, Canada.

Stockton, California — which
plans last year to start the first major basic
income pilot in the United States — will kick off its 18-month
trial period in February 2019,
Mayor Michael Tubbs
announced Monday.

The program, named the Stockton Economic
Empowerment Demonstration (SEED)
will provide
100 residents with $500 a month for the duration
of the trial. Recipients do not need to be working during the
trial, and there are no restrictions on how the money can be

Stockton residents can qualify for the trial if they are at least
18 years old and reside in a neighborhood with a median income of
$46,033 or less. Individuals who earn more than $46,033 can still
be eligible as long as their neighborhood fits the criteria.

SEED organizers will randomly select 1,000 initial residences
across the eligible neighborhoods, and each one will receive a
notice in the mail asking about interest in participating. From
those who choose to fill out a form with demographic questions,
organizers will select 100 people (also randomly) to begin
receiving basic income. 

Researchers will regularly check in with the recipients to
determine how basic income affects their health, financial
security, and civic engagement. The researchers will also monitor
a control group.

The city’s basic income pilot is fully funded by private
donations, not tax dollars, according to a
SEED report released Monday
. Donors include Facebook
co-founder Andrew McCollum and sociologist Gretchen Sisson, who
is McCollum’s wife. The Economic Security
— co-chaired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes,
Center for Community Change Action president Dorian Warren, and co-founder Natalie Foster — is a major donor as

“We hope to challenge the entrenched stereotypes and assumptions
about the poor, and the working poor, that paralyze our pursuit
of more aggressive solutions,” SEED wrote in its report. “We aim
to illustrate how widespread and episodic poverty is.”

While Tubbs’ basic income initiative garnered national attention,
some Stockton residents criticized the mayor for unrelated
actions and
launched a petition
 in January to remove him from
The petition
, which alleged wasteful spending and disregard
for the community, failed to gather the necessary votes.

Stockton was the largest city before Detroit to declare
bankruptcy, but its economy has improved in the past several
years as the population grew and crime rates fell. However, the
median household income
of $46,033 remains below California’s
median of $61,818. The
unemployment rate in Stockton
 is about 7%, which is
significantly higher than the state average. 

previously told Business Insider
that the basic income pilot
could give people more opportunity to find fulfillment in their

“In our economic structure, the people who work the hardest
oftentimes make the least,” Tubbs said. “I know migrant farm
workers who do back-breaking labor every day, or Uber drivers and
Lyft drivers who drive 10 to 12 hours a day in traffic. You can’t
be lazy doing that kind of work.”

The Stockton experiment is starting shortly after other
highly-publicized basic income pilots either ended abruptly
or were not renewed.

Most recently, the provincial government in Ontario, Canada,

a three-year pilot after only one year. About 4,000
people were receiving a monthly stipend through the program, and
many recipients
expressed shock and outrage
after Premier Doug Ford broke his
promise to continue the program.

Earlier this year,
officials in Finland announced
that a two-year pilot program
giving basic income to 2,000 people will end in January 2019.
Four months into the pilot, some of the people receiving $600 a
month had
reported lower stress levels

Finland’s program will run for the intended two years, but the
government denied a request for additional funding from Kela, the
country’s social security agency, and said it is looking at
different social welfare projects instead. 

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