In Kenya, a grand experiment in a radical approach to foreign aid and poverty alleviation is about to get underway. Instead of the predominant approach to foreign aid of providing in-kind donations to poor people (such as housing, food, and health care), the charity Give Directly plans to give money directly to poor people with no strings attached. The concept of a universal basic income (UBI) behind the charity’s experiment “is a specific type of cash transfer” that is “unconditional,” “universal,” “enough to cover basic needs,” and “guaranteed for a recipient’s lifetime.” Critics of UBI claim that recipients will waste the money they receive on things like alcohol, or will stop working because of the new income. Give Directly wants to test these claims to build evidence for UBI as a more efficient and effective approach to poverty alleviation.
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