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Unconditional Basic Income and Health


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What are the health-related effects of not having basic income? This slide deck by Scott Santens goes into the importance of guaranteeing economic security for human health and more equal opportunity. Poverty has too high of cost. It's time to end it by preventing it.

Follow Scott Santens on Twitter: @scottsantens

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Unconditional Basic Income and Health

  1. 1. What are the health-related effects of not having basic income? QUESTION:
  2. 2. TREATING SYMPTOMS INSTEAD OF ROOTS • “I was treating their bodies, but not their social situations. And especially not their income, which seemed to be the biggest barrier to their health improving. The research evidence was pretty clear on this. Income, poverty, is intimately connected to my patients’ health. In fact, poverty is more important to my low-income patients than smoking, high cholesterol, high- blood pressure, obesity, salt, or soda. Poverty wreaks havoc on my patients’ bodies. A 17% increased risk of heart disease; more than 100% increased risk of diabetes; 60% higher rates of depression; higher rates of lung, oral, cervical cancer; higher rates of lung disease like asthma and emphysema… It became pretty clear to me I was treating all of [my patients’] health issues except for the most important one—their poverty.”—Dr. Gary Bloch
  3. 3. COSTS OF CHILD POVERTY ALONE • 2007 analysis estimated costs to the United States associated with childhood poverty total about $500 billion per year, or the equivalent of nearly 4 percent of GDP. • Reduces productivity and economic output by about 1.3 percent of GDP; • Raises the costs of crime by 1.3 percent of GDP; and • Raises health expenditures and reduces the value of health by 1.2 percent of GDP. • Since 2007 the child poverty rate has increased from 17% to 25%. Assuming a proportional increase, the current loss to economic growth of child poverty could now be 5.6% of GDP, or $981 billion.)
  4. 4. POTENTIAL SAVINGS OF NO CHILD POVERTY • A report by the Chief Public Health Officer in Canada looked at this question of potential savings, and estimated that: • $1 invested in the early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on the health and criminal justice systems, as well as on social assistance.
  5. 5. BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF CHILD POVERTY Study of 150 kids showed strong relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and cognition
  6. 6. BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF CHILD POVERTY Study of 1,100 brains scans of kids showed “their results showed that those children falling on the poorer end of the lowest income bracket suffer exponentially severe losses in brain development.” Coming of age in poverty may lead to permanent dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala—which, according to the researchers, “has been associated with mood disorders including depression, anxiety, impulsive aggression and substance abuse.”
  7. 7. • What happens when we drastically reduce poverty by just increasing incomes directly with more money?
  8. 8. DAUPHIN – THE TOWN WITHOUT POVERTY • Canada, 1970s – Everyone guaranteed an income above the poverty line for about 5 years via negative income tax model of basic income. • Hospitalization rate decreased 8.5% due to less stress and fewer injuries • School attendance and performance improved • Less domestic violence • Fewer mental health complaints
  9. 9. THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS STUDY OF YOUTH (1993-2003) • Four years into North Carolina study, one quarter of the families started receiving dividends of around $4,000 per year due to being part of the Cherokee nation. • What happened? • Fewer instances of behavioral and emotional disorders • Boosts in two key personality traits connected to higher earnings and happier lives: conscientiousness (less lying, more focus) and agreeableness (social comfort, teamwork) • Largest effects on those most deficient • Parental relationships improved: less stress, less alcohol, more time
  10. 10. THE SOCIAL SECURITY NOTCH • 1972 change in Social Security law that was corrected in 1977. • Calculation change led to one group getting about $2,000 more per year. • People who received higher Social Security benefits ended up with better cognitive function. • Clinically meaningful change in the probability that someone would be classified as cognitively impaired or as demented.
  11. 11. EFFECTS BEFORE BIRTH? • Higher birth weights due to better maternal nutrition common finding of increasing incomes of mothers • EITC • Alaska dividends • American Income Maintenance Experiments
  12. 12. EPIGENETIC IMPLICATIONS • Dutch Hunger winter – programmed those in the womb for obesity due to expectation of starvation. • Cages themselves inhibit neurogenesis through social isolation and impoverishment. Put a primate under stressful conditions, and its brain begins to starve. It stops creating new cells. The cells it already has retreat inwards. The mind is disfigured. When a brain is worried, it’s just thinking about survival. It isn’t interested in investing in new cells for the future. • Enriched animal environments—enclosures that simulate the complexity of a natural habitat—lead to dramatic increases in both neurogenesis and the density of neuronal dendrites, the branches that connect one neuron to another. Complex surroundings create a complex brain.
  13. 13. COGNITIVE IMPLICATIONS • Indian sugar cane farmers - before harvest they are poor. After they are rich (60% of annual income all at once) IQ changes 10 points • Mall study - When asked to consider an emergency expense of $1,500, those with lower incomes suffered an effective loss of 13 IQ points on tasks or loss of one night’s sleep. When asked about $150, no such difference. • What are the total societal effects of millions of people living every day with an effective loss of 13 IQ points?
  14. 14. POLICY RESPONSE • If poverty has such profound implications, and appears to mostly be a lack of money, why not eliminate poverty by providing people sufficient money? • And remember, the cost of child poverty alone is over $900 billion per year…
  17. 17. PIECES OF THE UBI PUZZLE • The American Income Maintenance Experiments (1968-1976) • Canada's Mincome in Dauphin, Manitoba (1974-1979) • Universal Basic Income pilots in Namibia and India (2008-9, 2011-12) • Studies of cash transfer programs all over the world • GiveDirectly's work in Uganda and Kenya • Studies of basic income size monthly lottery winners • Alaska's annual Permanent Fund Dividend (share of oil) • Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth (casino dividends) • Social Security Notch
  18. 18. EFFECTS OF BASIC INCOME GUARANTEES • No social stigma • Primary earners spend more time job searching • New mothers extend their maternity leaves • Birth weights increase due to maternal nutrition • Students focus on school, grades improve • Hospitalization rates decline (8.5%) • Crime goes down (42%) • Home ownership rates increase (4-6%) • More fresh fruits and vegetables consumed • No increase in alcohol and tobacco (19 studies meta-analysis) • Improved cognitive functioning and personality traits • Savings go up, debts go down • Entrepreneurs are born and so are customers
  19. 19. WHAT IS A SOCIAL VACCINE? • A social vaccine can be defined as, ‘actions that address social determinants and social inequities in society, which act as a precursor to the public health problem being addressed’. While the social vaccine cannot be specific to any disease or problem, it can be adapted as an intervention for any public health response. The aim of the social vaccine is to promote equity and social justice that will inoculate the society through action on social determinants of health. • Universal basic income is a social vaccine for the disease of poverty.
  20. 20. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin