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Y-Combinator’s Basic Income Experiment Will Pay the Rent for Lucky Oakland Residents

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Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s elite startup accelerator, will be paying some Oakland residents’ rent as part of a new basic income experiment.

The experiment, which was first announced in January, aims to study what people do and how they feel when their basic expenses are covered by a mock social welfare program.

In a basic income program, citizens would be guaranteed a monthly sum to cover the cost of rent and food without requiring them to work for it.

Many may speculate what people of various economic backgrounds will do with their new financial freedom — will they sit at home all day doing nothing or become productive, economy-stimulating business owners?

This week, YC announced that Elizabeth Rhodes, a PhD graduate in Social Work and Political Science from the University of Michigan, was selected out of over 1,000 competitive applicants to lead the study.

In the next few months, Rhodes will be launching the first phase of the research project in Oakland. She explained to CNNMoney:

“It’s a really exciting opportunity. It’s a new idea; it’s still somewhat obscure.”

OAKLAND,_CA,_USA_-_Skyline_and_Bridge

The research pilot will first fine tune the experiment’s logistics for a nationwide study, determine how to select participants, find the best way to transfer funds and collect data. Oakland was chosen for it’s socio-economic diversity as well as it’s growing wealth inequality.

While YC has received “hundreds” of emails from interested individuals hoping to get a basic income, but exactly who will be participating and how much they will receive has yet to be determined, though YC revealed it will likely be between $1,000 and $2,000 a month

Rhodes also told CNN Money that YC will collaborate with interested academics for free to further analyze how a basic income can help stifle the growing wealth inequality in America.

Elsewhere in the world, Finland is considering its own basic income plan which would pay out $866 to each citizen a month while Switzerland’s basic income plan would give every adult $2,500 a month.


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