New Guaranteed Income Literature Review Offers Wealth of Knowledge

12. 13. 2022

We’re excited to share our literature review summarizing data from guaranteed income pilots and programs in the United States and Canada

We’re excited to share our literature review summarizing data from guaranteed income pilots and programs in the United States and Canada, going back over a hundred years. 

Guaranteed income pilots have generated enormous attention over the last several years. One hundred pilots have been announced across the country in the last five years alone. These demonstrations will impact many thousands of lives. As these programs play out over the coming years, they will generate a wealth of data and information on the ways a guaranteed income affects lives.

These results will be valuable, particularly in illuminating the role of cash during the pandemic and a period of significant uncertainty for households and the economy. But we also know that there is already a wealth of information on guaranteed income pilot programs. Direct cash payments are an idea with a long history around the world, an idea that has been tested repeatedly in the United States and Canada with substantial success, from the Mother’s Pension Program, started in 1911 to provide assistance to poor mothers with dependent children in the United States; to the 40-year-old Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, which pays an annual dividend to everyone who has lived in Alaska for at least one year; to the Rural Income Maintenance Experiment, a two-year guaranteed income test started in 1970 in North Carolina and Iowa; to the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, which has run for more than 45 years; and more. These programs offer us a well-documented history on guaranteed income programs, with substantial volumes of data on how direct payments can benefit families and communities in a variety of contexts and settings, across health, education, employment, and other areas. 

That’s why we are excited to have created a product that summarizes and contextualizes this data. This literature review offers members of the Guaranteed Income Community of Practice a look at the wealth of knowledge in this field and provides context for further research. Building on the great work of other organizations that have reviewed this data, our literature review gathers together the available findings from cash transfer programs in the United States and Canada going back many decades, providing a necessary starting point for anyone interested in the facts of this time-tested measure, and providing a vital resource for those researching guaranteed income, seeking to start a pilot, or aiming to enact a guaranteed income policy. In short, it’s a must read for anyone seriously interested in the topic.  

Here are some examples of the data on guaranteed income you’ll see:

  • Children of recipients of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Casino Dividend are more likely to graduate high school and have additional years of schooling, and they show an improvement in behavioral issues; 
  • The Federal Earned Income Tax Credit reduces household crowding, and is linked to improved health and food security, and a reduction in low birth weight; 
  • Recipients in the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration reported improved mental health, decreased income volatility, and the ability to leave precarious gig jobs in favor of full time employment;   
  • The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend has been linked to an increase in birth weight and a decrease in obesity among toddlers; 
  • Mothers in the Magnolia Mothers’ Trust reported an increase in food security and access to medical care.

This literature review offers a concise glimpse of many years of hard data on how cash transfer programs have succeeded, and provides important context on how future pilots and policies might impact families. As guaranteed income programs become increasingly popular, this context is more useful than ever.