Poles begin universal basic income experiment

The monthly income will be distributed across 5,000 to 31,000 beneficiaries living in communes located in the north of the country, not far from the border with Russia. The money will be given regardless of marital status, education or residence to reduce social inequalities and stimulate the economy. The experiment will also look at professional, social and educational activity, issues of well-being and the welfare of residents receiving monthly payments.  [Shutterstock/Margy Crane]

The Association of Warmia and Mazury Borderland Communities will distribute a monthly 1,300 PLN (€280) to thousands of Poles to measure how a universal basic income impacts their lives.

The monthly income will be distributed across 5,000 to 31,000 beneficiaries living in communes located in the north of the country, not far from the border with Russia. The money will be given regardless of marital status, education or residence to reduce social inequalities and stimulate the economy. The experiment will also look at professional, social and educational activity, issues of well-being and the welfare of residents receiving monthly payments.

Other countries have tested similar income programmes which in some cases have produced positive effects.

For example, in India, the inhabitants of eight villages received monthly payments from the states from 2011 to 2012 and saw their hygiene, diet and health levels rise. The villagers started working more, developed their businesses and even formed professional cooperatives together with other beneficiaries of the programme. Alcohol spending also saw a major decrease.

“This answers one of the preconceptions common in societies, that if we give money directly to the hand, people will waste it on alcohol,” the economist involved in the project and a member of the National Board of the left-wing Lewica Razem party, Dr Michal Szlinder, has said.

“Other social experiments also confirm that this prejudice is not borne out by the facts,” he added.

Similar experiments have also taken place in Germany and Finland.

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